University of Tasmania
whole_PriestleyRobertHenry1984_thesis.pdf (4.9 MB)

Public bodies in Tasmania

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posted on 2023-05-27, 13:53 authored by Priestley, R H(Robert Henry)
This project was undertaken in response to a per~eived need for more specific information about public bodies in Tasmania than is at present· readily available. Statutory authorities, public bodies, QUANGOS., QUAGOS, or whatever, are currently popular targets of inquiries and theoretical discussions.1 Interest in public authorities seems to have developed into concern, in some instances alarm, largely because lack of information confronts virtually all investigations. This difficulty is itself taken as a symptom of· an accountability problem. The findings o.f various inquiries and authors are discussed in chapter one but my interest in Tasmanian public bodies originates from a personal experience while I was employ~d as an auditor by the State Audit Department. In June 1980 the Auditor-General received a request from the Public Service Board for a list of statutory authorities subject to audit. No such list existed and I was given the task of producing one showing all statutory authorities and indicating whether they were subject to audit by the Auditor-General. Naively, I thought this would be an easy task involving simple collation from internal departmental records and other sources I imagined certain to exist within the public service. Audit Department records did yield information on those authorities which received an individual audit certificate but ie soon became clear there were many others not so easily traced. -The most difficult aspect was simply identifying all the authorities in existence. There was no alternative to a systematic search of legislation, government directories, annual reports, and even the telephone directory. Initially, I contacted various agencies which I expected to be able to provide assistance, only to receive virtually identical replies along the lines that unfortunately they could not help, but, when the list was finished would very much like to receive a copy. Eventually, the only way many small bodies were discovered was by contacting administrators in departments and known statutory authorities an~ asking for information about any associated boards, committees, etc. 1. Terminology and definitions are discussed in Chapter 2. 1. ', -, The above account is given for two reasons. Firstly, it indicates the lack of information available on statutory authorities in Tasmania thus showing a need for the type of data presented in Appendix A. Secondly, it provides a background to the methods used to identify authorities while researching this project. The original list has been reconstructed, definitionally refined, and extended in an attempt to include all authorities in existence at any time between 1960 and 1982 rather than being fixed at the time of preparation. Additionally, mechanisms of creation; functional origination and succession after termination; accountability requirements; and income and expenditure; have been added. This project is, therefore, primarily a~med toward the first prerequisite for any overall analysis of public bodies in Tasmania; that is, collection and classification of data. An attempt is made to fit this empirical exercise within the overall context of current discussion of public bodies and where possible comparisons are made with recent studies in other States and the CotIDnonwealth. The project is essentially descriptive and analytical rather than prescriptive. Before proceeding to analysis of the data presented in Appendix A it is necessary to make a qualification. The information shown was collected and classified on the basis of sources which in some instances may be incomplete. Therefore, individual data are open to question,', although care was taken to cross check information it is likely that some errors, omissions, and misinterpretations will have been made. For this reason conclusions are not drawn from absolute observations, but rather, are made on the basis of aggregate trends interpreted with awareness of possible research bias. Therefore, it is argued that the restricted conclusions drawn are fundamentally correct though probably not quantitatively exact.


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Thesis (M.Soc.Sc.)--University of Tasmania, 1984. Bibliography: leaves 181-182

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