Yesterday the Australian National Audit Officepublished a bombshell report into the collection of North West Shelf royalty revenue.
ANAOfound that $5 billion worth of deductions were claimed by oil and gas companies despitemany of these deductions not being permitted on the Commonwealth royalty schedule.
Theyalso found that it had been 17 years since the department of industry audited the oiland gas companies' procedures for royalty calculations.
Senator, how many hundreds of millionsof dollars in revenue have gone begging because of this basic lack of scrutiny? Will the governmentbe establishing a multidepartment task force into fixing this mess? Strictly speaking, that is actually a questionfor my good friend and colleague Senator Canavan, who is responsible for royalty arrangementsthrough the resources portfolio.
But let me just respond on behalf of the government,in an abundance of helpfulness, as always and as ever, for Senator Whish-Wilson.
The government has welcomed the Australian National Audit Office report.
We have acceptedall the recommendations.
I see Senator Canavan nodding.
Of course, we are swiftly implementingall of those recommendations.
Indeed, over the last financial year I believe that thedepartment and the Audit Office have worked together to assess how collections in relationto royalty streams have been conducted and all of the royalty revenue has absolutelyand fully been received in accordance with the law.
Now, obviously, the government isalways happy and keen to take on board any suggestions on how arrangements can be improved.