Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2001 Week 6 Hansard (14 June) . . Page.. 1702..
MR QUINLAN (continuing):
clearly, unsupportable figures that made up that plan remained. Nevertheless, this became the rationale for government decision. So the Auditor has this limitation.
The Auditor is limited in that he can only work with available information. This has been the case not only with Bruce Stadium but also with some of the financial accounting that we have seen, particularly in 1997. This government was clearly trying to create the old standard black hole when they cast back the books for 1995-96. In order to look good you really need to either perform well or in fact change the past so that people will say, "We're lucky to have you now."
The Auditor-General Amendment Bill 2001 is one step that we can take to try to assist the Auditor to require information, to require people to provide information. The bill requires auditees to provide information that the Auditor demands; for the information to be provided in a timely and complete fashion; and for the Auditor to be empowered to take evidence under oath. I think it is a somewhat sad reflection on the current government that the Auditor finds himself in the position of having to seek the power to take evidence under oath.
Just step back one yard from that request from the Auditor and draw your own conclusion about the processes that he went through in making his audit report in 1997. These are the processes that were generally occurring around about that time. As I say, 1997 was probably a very low point in the life of ACT government in terms of dealing with facts and figures.
In some small way this bill attempts to empower the Auditor to get closer to the facts. His ability to do this has been limited on a number of fronts. But, as I said, he is required at the end of the day to presume innocence until guilt can be proven. Unless he has firm evidence to the contrary, he has to accept what is provided. And you would think he would be able to do that. But for the Auditor to have to look for this sort of power is eloquent commentary on this government's administration and the way it has treated facts and figures. I commend the bill to the house.
Debate (on motion by Mr Smyth ) adjourned to the next sitting.
Financial Management Amendment Bill 2001 (No 2)
Mr Berry, pursuant to notice, presented the bill.
Title read by Clerk.
MR BERRY (10.49): I move:
That this bill be agreed to in principle.
Mr Speaker, this bill is part of a package of measures to ensure that the education funding which has been misdirected to free school buses finds it way back into our schools. The Liberal government made a promise in 1995 that they would implement