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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2001 Week 7 Hansard (20 June) . . Page.. 2253..


MR HUMPHRIES (continuing):

MR HUMPHRIES (Chief Minister, Minister for Community Affairs and Treasurer) (10.00): I wish to speak against clause 5. Whatever is in clause 5 is quite pernicious. I forget what it is just for the moment, but I am dreadfully opposed to clause 5. It is a terribly iniquitous clause.

Mr Osborne: This is the one you support.

MR HUMPHRIES: No, I do not. Clause 5 is the proposed new section 18A, which requires the Auditor-General to appear before an Assembly committee as a witness to discuss the report. I do not understand why the Auditor ought to be compelled to appear in this way. The Auditor has been cooperative with committees of the Assembly in the past, and I imagine that he or she-whoever it may be, the incumbent in that position at the present time or in the future-will continue to cooperate with the Assembly.

This idea of compulsion on the Auditor to appear is difficult to accept. I argue that there is no great case for it. There are all sorts of people who are agents of governments or statutory authorities and who at the present time may or may not appear before Assembly committees. We have debated in the past in this place what would happen if one of those people refused to appear before an Assembly committee. I would be reluctant to create a precedent whereby the first and, as far as I am aware, the only officer holder in the entire ACT who was compelled by legislation to appear before an Assembly committee was the Auditor-General. I am not aware of any other case where that occurs. So on that basis alone I urge members to oppose this clause.

Clause 5 negatived.

Remainder of bill, by leave, taken as a whole.

MR HUMPHRIES (Chief Minister, Minister for Community Affairs and Treasurer) (10.04): Mr Speaker, I seek leave to move amendments 5 and 6 circulated in my name together.

Leave granted.

MR HUMPHRIES: I move amendments 5 and 6 circulated in my name [see schedule 2 at page 2280].

These amendments replace the word "must" with "may" in subsections (1) and (3) of proposed new section 22A. The presently drafted provision compels the Auditor-General to tell the presiding member of the public accounts committee when there is insufficient resources to conduct audits under sections 11 and 12, allows the committee to communicate with the Treasurer about this fact, then compels the Treasurer to act if the committee forms the view that further money is required to resource the Auditor-General appropriately.

We do not require this sort of approach in other legislation. We do not compel part of the government to resource or appropriate money for anything. It would be unfortunate if we were to establish a precedent here. My amendments allow the Auditor-General, if he wishes, to raise the matter with the public accounts committee. Once the matter is on the public record, the public accounts committee is aware of it and makes a recommendation


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