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Wednesday, 5 December 1973
Page: 4304

Mr SPEAKER -Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.

Mr JARMAN - Honourable members will recall that on 28 November I tabled the one hundred and forty-seventh report which relates to expenditure from the Advance to the Treasurer for the financial year 1972-73. The one hundred and forty-eighth report which I am tabling today relates to expenditure from the Consolidated Revenue Fund for that year and covers the remaining items included in the Committee's annual examination of the expenditure results of departments. In examing expenditure from the Consolidated Revenue Fund each year, the Committee seeks to ascertain whether or not the principles relating to the formulation of estimates have been adopted by the departments under examination. These principles, which are included in Treasury Direction 16/9, have also been set out in Chapter 1 of the one hundred and forty-eighth report. In recent years the Committee has paid particular attention to the estimates and related expenditure of departments. As a poor standard of estimating has wide ramifications, the Committee has concerned itself not only with excess expenditure charged to the Advance to the Treasurer but also with the overprovision of funds. The Committee has made it clear that such over-provisions are undesirable, misleading and perhaps unfair to other departments whose financial needs might not have been satisfied.

At the same time, the Committee has emphasised that it does not regard the total expenditure of available funds under a particular appropriation item as an objective to be sought without regard to other important considerations. Indeed, undue emphasis on the need to match expenditure and available funds can give rise to unnecessary and uneconomic expenditure and oan result in the distortion of administrative practices. In this regard, 'the Committee has, on previous occasions, criticised departments that have accelerated payments in order to prevent an appropriation from lapsing. As this and previous reports relating to expenditure from the Consolidated Revenue Fund show, there are explanations for expenditure variations from the estimates which are acceptable to the Committee. In this report, however, the Committee has also found it necessary to refer to cases of unsatisfactory estimating, inadequate administrative performances that have resulted in shortfalls in expenditure and inaccurate and inadequate submissions to the Committee. Attention has been drawn to these inadequacies where they have arisen. I commend the report to honourable members.

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