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Tuesday, 12 November 1974
Page: 2277

Senator Douglas McClelland (NEW SOUTH WALES) (Minister for the Media) - I appreciate the matter which Senator Laucke has raised. It was the subject of a reference to the Committee ofthe Whole by Estimates Committee C last year. There is a re-affirmation of that Committee 's recommendation on this occasion by the present Estimates Committee C. As I understand the situation, Senator Laucke is not actually querying the explanations that were given by me as the Minister responsible for reporting to the Committee on the 2 items to which he has referred, namely, the one relating to new expenditure being incurred by the Australian Government Advertising Advisory Council and the one relating to expenditure on youth activities by the Department of Education. But he is raising as a matter of general principle the question whether matters relating to new policies that have not been authorised by special legislation should be included, as I understand his argument, in Appropriation Bill (No. 2), which is subject to amendment by the Senate, and not included in Appropriation Bill (No. 1 ), which is not subject to amendment by the Senate. As I have already said, I note that the Estimates Committee in presenting a report to the Committee of the Whole has now re-affirmed the recommendation that was made to the Committee of the Whole in November 1973 by Estimates Committee C. The recommendation was that the matter of the interpretation of the 1965 compact insofar as it relates to new policies should be referred to the Senate Standing Committee on Constitutional and Legal Affairs.

Senator Lauckehas indicated that at the appropriate time- I think that will be when the Senate moves into the third reading debate- he will propose such a motion. Bearing in mind the letter that he read from my colleague the Treasurer (Mr Crean) that was tendered to the 1973 Estimates Committee, and without necessarily committing the Government at this stage, I personally can see no reason why the Senate as a whole, and indeed the Government, should object to the matter being referred to the Senate Standing Committee on Constitutional and Legal Affairs. After all, that is a recommendation of this Committee reporting to the Committee of the Whole. One must realise naturally that the majority of members on the Committee were Government members. I appreciate the points that have been raised by Senator Laucke. They are of tremendous importance for the Senate. I believe that they need to be looked at carefully. However, in the short time that has been available to me to look at this matter I have sought some advice from the Treasury. I am advised that in matters of this nature the Treasury carefully watches what should be included in each Bill as a matter of principle and that in so doing it does not anticipate that approvals will be given in principle.

Senator Greenwood - Is that advice in writing or is that advice that they have tendered to you? '

Senator Douglas McClelland (NEW SOUTH WALES) (Minister for the Media) -That is just advice they have tendered to me. I must say that the officer who has tendered the advice to me is, as I understand it, not the appropriate officer who would be giving the advice in such circumstances. But that is the advice immediately available to me and I put that on the record bearing in mind the letter that my colleague, the Treasurer wrote to the Estimates Committee.

Senator Greenwood - I only add a word of caution. The same issue arose in Estimates Committee A and that has not yet reported.

Senator Douglas McClelland (NEW SOUTH WALES) (Minister for the Media) - I only put this on the record bearing in mind what my colleague, Mr Crean, the Treasurer, said in 1973. Having said that, I state that I appreciate the tenor of Senator Laucke 's remarks. It is a matter for the Senate as a whole. All I can say is that I appreciate and understand the reasons for the Committee's recommendations.

Proposed expenditure- Department of the Media, $ 1 1 5,4 1 9,000-passed.

Proposed expenditure- Department of Education, $275,522,000, and Department of Tourism and Recreation, $8,356,000- passed.

The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN -(Senator Lawrie). -That concludes the examination of the departments covered by group C. We will now proceed to the examination of the departments covered by group D.

Proposed expenditure- Department of Agriculture, $49,418,000-passed

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