Parliamentary record : Part I debates (24 April 1985)
Debates for 4th Assembly 1983 - 1987; ParliamentNT; Parliamentary Record; 4th Assembly 1983 - 1987
Made available by the Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory
Northern Territory Legislative Assembly
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Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory
DEBATES Tuesday 23 April 1985 The question of motor vehicles is one that we have all heard about. Approval was sought to increase the 1983-84 budget of $360 000 to allow for the purchase of a vehicle for each and everyone of the 36 members despite the fact that already there was a carry-over of vehicles previously purchased under the Aboriginal Development Commission scheme. Specific directions were given by the minister relating to procedures for the purchase of those vehicles and these were blatantly ignored. Notwithstanding the minister's direction, the conference accepted a quotation and approved the purchase of 21 vehicles in January 1984. It then purchased 3 secondhand vehicles. Later in February, another 10 vehicles were acquired by the conference, adding up to some 3D-odd vehicles purchased at a total cost of $592 554-eventhough the budget was $360 000 -.in direct defiance of the directions given by the minister. Mr Deputy Speaker, a number of other areas were highlighted and shown to be of concern in relation to fixed assets and lack of records of assets held by the conference. Approximately only 50% of total assets were recorded in the assets register. A personal charge register contained no entries from 1982 onwards and less than 50% of personal charge assets were recorded. Concern was shown over the receipt and methods of collecting and banking moneys and in relation to the debtors system, budget control, accounting arrangements and advances. In fact, the general conclusion of the Auditor-General's report indicated that there appeared to be a great number of areas that were seriously deficient. Mr Deputy Speaker, we have seen the minister's response to. this mismanagement by the National Aboriginal Conference. Quite simply, he disbanded it. I suppose it was the correct decision to make in the end but my criticism of the minister relates to the way he went about that. Certainly, he was aware of this report for 6 months before he bothered to table it in the parliament and he had been aware of the problems well before his initial action in seeking such an audit some 13 months ago. Mr Deputy Speaker, I am not looking to denigrate either the original basic principle and purpose with which the NAC was set up nor those members whose task it was to represent the Aboriginal view and advise the federal government in relation to policy decisions. I am aware that, to some extent, these obj ectives have been met and that many of the members of the conference have taken the responsibilities quite seriously and contributed a great deal towards that effort. However, there is no doubt in my mind .that much of the hanky panky that occurred, as well as the obvious and blatant incompetence and dereliction of duty, both by officers and executive members, has been highlighted quite clearly in this report. Despite my small involvement in the affairs of the NAC, I have been advised that, in many cases, members have been guilty of nonperformance in jobs that were paid highly for from taxpayers' money. Those members, I am sad to say, led to the total disbandment of that conference. Whilst the Auditor-General's scathing report highlights a blatant and significant misuse of taxpayers' money, the person who holds unquestionably the major part of the responsibility must be the minister concerned. The buck stops at the top. My criticism of the minister also relates not only to his unwillingness to accept part of the responsibility but also to his lack of performance time-wise. He has sat on this report for quite some time. Certainly, he has not addressed himself to solving the problems that were quite clearly brought to his notice by members of his department. I mention these matters purely to highlight the hypocrisy of the federal government in accusing the Northern Territory government of financial mismanagement. We have an example of an absolutely disgusting and abominable waste 785
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