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Tuesday, 13 November 1973
Page: 1718


Senator WRIGHT (Tasmania) Having spoken for this side of the House in the original debate, I rise to express my appreciation, of what the Special Minister of State (Senator Willesee) has said. I believe that in rejecting the amendment that we introduced requiring the Committee to scrutinise all works which exceeded $2m undertaken by statutory authorities, the Government has seen that we would create, from the point of view of practical dispatch of business, quite some difficulty. We recognised that at the time and therefore have no hesitation whatever in accepting the proposal to reject that amendment. I express my appreciation that the Minister has instituted an in-depth examination by an interdepartmental committee of the full range of works undertaken by all arms of the Government. He has given this Committee an undertaking that he will proceed with the operation of that committee as a matter of urgency. It was recognised that the formulation of the description of works that were required to go before the Public Works Committee- simply in a form that described departmental works- enabled a great bracket of works undertaken by statutory authorities to escape the scrutiny of the Committee.

It is implicit in the interest that the Government has taken in the amendment that there is perceived an anomaly inasmuch as departmental works are to be scrutinised and statutory authority works will escape the scrutiny. So the fact that the whole of the matter is now being subjected to examination and will come up for consideration as early as practicable is a matter of satisfaction. I only wish to suggest with regard to the formulation of the works program for the consideration of this Parliament and therefore of the Public Works Committee that we render considerable service by having a program formulated to deal not merely with an annual period but with a period extending over 3 or 5 years. I suggest that then the Government, the Parliament and the industry would know just what work load was to be expected both from the finance point of view and the point of view of demand on the resources of the industry. I suggest also that this would be a great help to the financing by the Government of the public works program. People will say: 'Why did you not institute this while you were Minister for Works?' Well, endeavours are made but not always not in vain. I am pursuing here a theme, which I hope can be taken on a non-partisan basis, of considering the appropriateness of a program of works based not upon a year but upon a period of 3 or 5 years

From the point of view of the general economic balance of the country, I believe that, together with consultation with the States as to their programs of works, which of course are very great indeed, in conjunction with our programs and taking them into annual review so that they are rolling on year by year, a program covering a period of 3 to 5 years would give to the economy of this country a balancing wheel that we have not had. I merely make that suggestion. I believe it is a suggestion which Senator Cotton has advanced on previous occasions. I hope I did not distort it or wrongly attribute it.


Senator Cotton - Not at all.


Senator WRIGHT - I hear my colleague say: Not at all'. I simply inject those 2 ideas into my speech in acknowledging the Minister's proposal. The proposal is to delete the amendment of statutory authority works being required to go before the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works. It is a suggestion in which we readily acquiesce.

Amendment agreed to.

Bill reported with an amendment; report adopted.







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