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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2018 Week 08 Hansard (Wednesday, 15 August 2018) . . Page.. 3020 ..


Section 7 of the Auditor-General Act is very clear on this issue. Part 1 notes that the Auditor-General has complete discretion in the exercise of the Auditor-General’s function, and part 2 notes that the Auditor-General is not subject to direction from anyone in relation to whether a particular audit is to be carried out, the way in which a particular audit is to be carried out or the priority to be given to any particular matter. This could not be any clearer. The Auditor-General is an independent body and is not subject to direction from anyone, including the minister, the Speaker or the Assembly. That is why we cannot support the call in Mrs Dunne’s motion for the Speaker to instruct the Auditor-General to undertake a performance audit of the medical imaging department at the Canberra Hospital.

I was surprised by this text because Mrs Dunne, of course, has been the Speaker, and I wonder whether we have a different interpretation of this or whether this was an oversight. I doubt it was a deliberate attempt to interfere with the independence of the Auditor-General. Governments, of course, should be subject to scrutiny, and there are appropriate processes for that, through both the Assembly and other independent oversight mechanisms. We do not shy away from the need for these issues to be addressed and reported on, but we cannot support this proposal because it seeks to instruct the Auditor-General, and that is a very specific word.

I have been thinking about the history here. There have been times when the Assembly has requested the Auditor-General to consider a matter, and it has been that sort of language.

Mrs Dunne: You’re using the old text of the motion.

MR RATTENBURY: Mrs Dunne is suggesting to me that—

Mrs Dunne: The text is out of date.

MADAM SPEAKER: It came to my attention too, Mr Rattenbury. I understand that the notice paper uses the word “request”.

MR RATTENBURY: Thank you; I am pleased to be corrected. I was surprised, and I hope that was reflected in my remarks, because it is an important distinction. I will leave that point now, but my first point nonetheless remains the same.

I will conclude by simply observing that the Canberra Hospital radiology department has some work to do on a range of issues raised in the training accreditation report that must be addressed. The department now has a clear set of recommendations, all of which it has accepted. The appropriate next step is to allow the staff and management at Canberra Hospital to make the necessary improvements to maintain the highest possible accreditation level, and to seek updates on this process through the Assembly.

We will not support the motion today for the reasons I have outlined, but that is not to diminish the findings of the accreditation report. I look forward to seeing the progress that has been committed to to ensure that the higher accreditation level is achieved.


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