Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2004 Week 7 Hansard (29 June) . . Page.. 2851..
MR SMYTH (continuing):
Again I say that the work we do in this place puts additional pressure on the work they have to do in their office. So we would be very supportive of seeing over time an increase in the Auditor-General's budget that is commensurate with the needs. There has been an increase this year. It is a significant increase over previous years. We will be supporting part 1.3 of the bill.
MR STEFANIAK (11.18): I was also pleased to see the government indicate in its response to the report of the Estimates Committee that it has increased the office's base funding by $300,000 in appropriation and additional revenue of $215,000 in audit fees for 2004-05 and onwards and that the government has committed to providing the appropriate level of resources for the Auditor-General's Office in the context of its budgetary priorities and fiscal capacity.
The auditor's reports are absolutely essential to the good governance of the territory. Sometimes the government of the day does not particularly like the findings in these reports, but in my experience the reports have always been very thorough, they have always looked at a wide range of detail and they have usually made some very sensible recommendations about how to fix up things ranging from the management of swimming pools through to, dare I say it, the redevelopment of Bruce Stadium.
Recently, I referred to the Auditor-General some serious concerns that a staff member had with an organisation. The auditor has taken up that matter and seems to be doing a most thorough job of it. All of those things lead to better governance, be they systemic problems within departments through to problems which come under the purview of the auditor that individuals have and draw to the attention of people in the Assembly.
As chair of the committee, I was concerned to hear the Auditor-General tell us about problems within her office and the fact that there was significant staff turnover and that at present 50 per cent of the staff have less than two years experience. It is a problem when you see that in any area of government. That was impacting on their ability to do performance audits. I think that only about two people out of nine were really able to do that, which was of great concern to the auditor.
It is pleasing to see the government recognise that in its response. It seems to be taking appropriate action and seems to be making a commitment to continue to provide an appropriate level of resources for this most important arm of administration in the territory.
MS DUNDAS (11.21): Other members have made some pertinent points in relation to the Auditor-General, but I would like to note that the government, in its response to recommendation 10 of the Estimates Committee, said:
The need for improving performance reporting has been highlighted in the Supplementary Budget Paper, and would be addressed as part of the work outlined in that discussion paper.
The government then repeated its commitment to consultation in relation to budget paper No 5. It was a recommendation of the Estimates Committee that the government let us