Opinion Number. 694

Subject

PUBLIC WORKS COMMITTEE RELATIVE POWERS OF PUBLIC WORKS COMMITTEE AND MINISTER IN CHARGE OF WORK

Key Legislation

COMMONWEALTH PUBLIC WORKS COMMITTEE ACT 1913

Date
Client
The Minister for Home Affairs

I am in receipt of your letter of 13th instant asking for advice whether the Public Works Committee have power, after completing an inquiry into a work, to prevent a Minister from securing further technical information as to the carrying out of the work, or does a Minister's right of changing the construction, so as to reduce costs and create efficiency, from when the Public Works Committee have made their recommendation, [prevail], and whether the Public Works Committee has any power to control a Minister's action in carrying out the work.(1)

In my opinion, the Committee has no power to prevent a Minister from taking any action with respect to a public work, and has no control over a Minister's actions. The functions of the Committee are confined to investigating and reporting on works referred to them.

The Minister is controlled, not by the Committee, but by the Act. The Act requires him, in the case of any work the estimated cost of which exceeds £50,000, to submit the proposal to the House and have it referred to the Committee.

I do not think that anything in the Act deprives the Minister of the power to make alterations in the construction of the work after the Committee has reported on it, provided that such alterations do not make it a different work altogether from that which was submitted to the Committee.

[Vol. 14, p. 278]

(1)In the Opinion Book part of this sentence is garbled; it has been reconstructed to make sense.