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Wednesday, 23 August 1972
Page: 308

Senator WILLESEE (WESTERN AUSTRALIA) - Is the Acting Leader of the Government in the Senate aware that the annual report of the Commonwealth Auditor-General discloses that the United States of America has overcharged Australian Service departments at least Sim for defence equipment in the past 2 years? Did the Auditor-General state that the United States Government had agreed to return $252,000 and investigate other claims but that Australia could find it difficult to recover all the money because of the time lag? If so, will the Minister explain how such a large error occurred and what positive steps are being taken to rectify this costly mistake and to avoid a recurrence?

Senator DRAKE-BROCKMAN - The Deputy Leader of the Opposition has asked a question relating to the whole of the defence group. I am aware of the reports that he mentioned, but at this stage I cannot give him details as to how the deficiencies that he outlined were arrived at. However, I can outline the situation in my own Department and I came into the Senate prepared to do that today. The deficiencies in the main are revealed by comparisons between American accounting and Australian accounting. The accounting in respect of purchases made by Australia is done in America. The information is fed into a computer where sometimes discrepancies are revealed. On other occasions the results have to be reconciled with what is shown by our computer figures. This is the general trend. 1 should like to examine the question asked by the honourable senator and supply him with additional detailed information.

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