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Tuesday, 12 November 1974
Page: 2273

Senator McLAREN (South Australia) - I rise to make a few comments because of the remarks of Senator Carrick. As is usual when Senator Carrick rises to speak in this place he missed no opportunity to endeavour to denigrate this Government. He quoted from the Auditor-General's report and I want to repeat some of the things he read from it. In most cases the extracts refer to actions taken by a government which he supported. It is quite obvious that the purchasing officers acting under the instructions of his Government either leased or bought properties which were not suitable for the purposes for which they were required.This was pointed out in the Auditor-General's report. On page 1 96 of that report under the heading ' 3. 1 9. 1 Government-owned Properties Unoccupied for Extended Periods' the Auditor-General had this to say:

Audit examinations during the year disclosed a number of instances where properties purchased by the Government had subsequently remained unoccupied for extended periods.

Why was this so? It was so because, as I said a few moments ago, they were purchased by the Government which the honourable senator supported although they were not suitable for the purposes for which they were purchased. The Auditor-General continued:

In one case, a property purchased in December 1971 for $1,050,000 was still only partially occupied. Another property, purchased in February 1969 for $190,000, had been vacant since acquis tion.

Who was responsible for that? It was not the Whitlam Government. The Auditor-General also said:

A site purchased in October 1972 for $60,000 had been found unsuitable for the intended purpose and its development was in doubt.

Who was in government when that property was purchased? This report continues:

Instances were also noted of properties remaining unoccupied long after having been vacated by the holding departments.

A property valued at $ 1 ,200,000 was still unoccupied after having been vacated in August 1 972.

The Opposition Parties were in government then. The Auditor-General continued:

Another valued at $2,425,000 had been vacant since November 1972. A further property valued at $1 10,000 had been vacant since August 1 972.

In every case these properties were either purchased or leased by the previous McMahon Government yet Senator Carrick rose in this place and tried to lay the blame at the feet of the present Government. The Auditor-General later said:

The Department of Services and Property has informed my Office that an inter-departmental committee is presently reviewing the use of Government land holdings and formulating policy options and procedures in accordance with Government objectives.

I am sure that the outcome of the findings of that committee will be that this Government will not continue to make the stupid mistakes made by the Liberal-Country Party Government, as instanced by what I have quoted from the AuditorGeneral 's report.

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