Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2001 Week 6 Hansard (14 June) . . Page.. 1701..
MR RUGENDYKE (continuing):
A registered survey certificate has the capacity to verify what the architect is saying and in the long run eliminate unnecessary disputes and mistakes that are a blight on our planning regime. Mr Speaker, I commend the bill to the Assembly.
Debate (on motion by Mr Smyth ) adjourned to the next sitting.
Auditor-General Amendment Bill 2001
Mr Quinlan, pursuant to notice, presented the bill and its explanatory memorandum.
Title read by Clerk.
MR QUINLAN (10.40): I move:
That this bill be agreed to in principle.
Quite clearly, Mr Speaker, this bill has its genesis in the Bruce Stadium fiasco-or more correctly, the performance audit process that followed the Bruce Stadium redevelopment. If you read the Auditor-General's report on the Bruce Stadium, you find that it is not a single problem or a single misdemeanour: it is a whole sequence of maladministration and, in fact, law breaking. The scandal would have been far greater had this happened in any other place in Australia. I guess we suffer from being in something of a political backwater-from being political minnows in the great scheme of things across Australia. There would have been a much greater reverberation if it had happened in the states.
As well as having had the benefit of reading the audit report, I have had informal discussions with the Auditor-General. He has pointed up the many references in the audit report that he prepared in relation to missing documentation. Of course, he also pointed up those areas where he just could not identify what had happened. We got to the ridiculous stage of not being able to identify the chairperson of a working party or a management committee. So the Auditor-General could not even identify who was the chair of that committee, or so-called committee.
But, more importantly, it is quite apparent that during the course of this very elongated audit the Auditor received information, data or claims which he then assimilated with other information, data and claims and drew conclusions which, in the interests of protecting the rights of the auditees, he then showed. As a result of that, all of a sudden he got different information, data and claims and found that he had to return to the well time and again.
This bill will not correct and amend all the difficulties that an auditor faces. The great limitation on an auditor is the fact that he can only work with information that is available. It is a case of everybody that is audited being innocent until proven guilty, even if there is a suspicion that the associated information has gone missing.
We have seen in recent times the government standing behind an audit report. The Auditor has been limited by the amount of information when auditing annual reports for the whole of government. He has had to audit in some difficult times. I think you could say that 1997 was part of the era of cowboy accounting in the ACT. A casual observer would say that the quite fanciful business plan for Bruce Stadium was crazy. The plan was supposedly audited and subjected to two checks-one by Arthur Andersen and one by the eventual project managers-and version seven or version 14 was accepted by government. But still, for all the challenges, the quite fanciful, incorrect and, quite