Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2010 Week 07 Hansard (Tuesday, 29 June 2010) . . Page.. 2737 ..
well-managed and strong Auditor-General’s Office. My concern is that we may not in the future have a well-funded Auditor-General’s Office, and I will watch, and the Greens will watch, with interest and care the funding for the Auditor-General in the future, to ensure that it remains at at least the critical minimum to keep the Auditor-General’s Office viable, productive, functioning and adding to parliamentary democracy in the ACT.
MR SMYTH (Brindabella) (3.41): Consideration of this line in the budget comes in the wake of some controversy concerning the funding of the ACT Auditor-General’s Office, and I note the comments that have been made by the Chief Minister in recent times. I think these comments set the scene for the Auditor-General’s funding in the budget. You only have to consider the Chief Minister’s comment to PAC in March this year when he said:
We have, over the last 10 years, increased funding for the ACT Auditor-General by, on average, nine per cent a year. We have, over the last five years, increased funding for the ACT Auditor-General by 17 per cent a year. That is a level of growth greater than the Canberra Hospital receives. The ACT Auditor-General increase in funding under this government is greater than the funding received by the Canberra Hospital.
That is from 12 March 2010. These comments show the Chief Minister at his misleading best. It is a classic “how to lie with statistics” approach. Of course the Auditor-General has received on average a funding increase over the past 10 years, and on average an increase of 17 per cent over the past five years to 2008-09. But what the Chief Minister did not say is that in 2004-05 the Auditor-General received a funding increase over the previous year of 33 per cent and in 2006-07 there was an increase of 41 per cent. And why were these boosts provided? In 2004-05, $300,000 was provided, and of course $1,000 of this was utilised for increased costs for services from InTACT, which hardly delivered a new report, and the balance was predominantly for two additional performance staff and CPI increases. In 2006-07, $500,000 was provided. While this was meant to provide for three new performance audit staff, much of it was used, unfortunately, for salary increases—that was good for the staff; we do not quibble over the staff needing extra funding—required superannuation costs, increased workers compensation premium, increased InTACT costs, increased accommodation costs and CPI increases.
So none of it, unfortunately, certainly in the 2006-07 budget, resulted in increased performance audits. And that is what the Canberra Liberals have been on about. The Auditor-General has also had to provide for the implementation of changes to new auditing standards out of these funds—and all of these increases have been provided, we must recall, on a very low base of funding that is provided from the budget for the activities of the Auditor-General. Furthermore, if these two substantial boosts are removed, annual increases have either been in line with or indeed below increases in CPI.
For the Chief Minister then to say that the Auditor-General has received an increase in funding that is greater than the Canberra Hospital receives is incredibly disingenuous. But that is what we get to expect from a Chief Minister who has certainly lost interest in leading the ACT.