Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1996 Week 9 Hansard (28 August) . . Page.. 2731..
MR WOOD (continuing):
The Minister advised the committee that the Government would implement all the audit recommendations, except that the agreement of joint venture partners would be necessary for the appointment of the Auditor-General to audit all joint venture arrangements. However, the Minister was confident that most of the joint venture partners would agree; hence the committee's recommendation in relation to this aspect of the audit review.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
MR WOOD (4.48): Mr Speaker, I present Report No. 18 of the Standing Committee on Public Accounts entitled "Review of Auditor-General's Report No. 2, 1996 - Taxi Plates Auction". I move:
That the report be noted.
This audit arose from an approach to the Auditor-General by the Chief Minister seeking guidelines to assist members of the Assembly and government officials in making decisions on matters which may affect or be influenced by family connections and commercial dealings with companies and individuals who are partners or family members of members of the Assembly. The Auditor-General agreed to the request, but also considered the situation which gave rise to the request. That was the appointment of the auctioneering firm Harold Hird and Associates to auction 15 taxi plates in late 1995.
The audit noted that changing relativity between customer demand and taxi numbers was highly likely to reduce auction prices and observed that a more targeted and comprehensive marketing campaign could have generated better financial returns for the ACT than was the case with the auction under review. It should, however, be noted that the generation of additional income was not the prime purpose of the auction. The audit expressed reservations about the auction process, and the committee took up with the Ministers this and other matters raised by the audit. The committee was advised that a more formal process including a marketing plan would be adopted for the next sale of taxi plates. Alternatives to auction would be considered, including tendering.
With regard to guidelines, the audit reviewed codes of conduct of various Australian jurisdictions and noted that the Queensland draft codes for elected members and for public officials seem to provide the most useful guide. The audit proposed that members or officials declare an interest or relationship where conflict situations arise and that the Assembly determine to whom a declaration should be made in relation to members. For officials, the audit proposed that a declaration be made to the relevant chief executive and, for chief executives, to the relevant Minister.