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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1996 Week 4 Hansard (18 April) . . Page.. 1039 ..

MRS CARNELL (continuing):

limits should not be met simply by reducing services, or by deferring costs to future years, or by running down assets. Mr Speaker, in conclusion I would like to emphasise that this Bill contains no agenda other than a commitment to accountability, improved management and greatly improved transparency and disclosure. The Bill is one of the most significant reforms of my Government. I commend the Bill to the Assembly.

Debate (on motion by Mr Whitecross) adjourned.


MRS CARNELL (Chief Minister and Treasurer) (10.46): Mr Speaker, I present the Auditor-General Bill 1996, together with its explanatory memorandum.

Title read by Clerk.


That this Bill be agreed to in principle.

Mr Speaker, the Auditor-General Bill 1996 and the Public Sector Management (Amendment) Bill 1996, which I will table next in the Assembly, complement the reforms introduced by the Financial Management Bill. The objective of these Bills is to promote full public accountability for public sector activities and the use of resources. This requires that members of the Legislative Assembly, as elected representatives of the public, be provided with accurate and complete information on the legality, efficiency and effectiveness with which public sector activities and resources are managed. The Auditor-General Bill brings together provisions relating to the Auditor-General that are scattered throughout the existing Audit Act. It introduces a number of new concepts to reinforce the independence of the Auditor-General. The Bill also clarifies existing practices and provides for the Auditor-General's office and functions.

I would like to address some of the more significant aspects of the Bill. The Auditor-General Bill significantly reinforces the independence of the Auditor-General from the Executive. It recognises the unique responsibilities of the Auditor-General in reporting to the legislature independently of the Executive. The Bill provides that the Executive's power to appoint an Auditor-General is subject to veto by the Public Accounts Committee. The Bill requires that the budget of the Auditor-General's Office be subject to prior consultation with the Public Accounts Committee. It proposes that the presiding member of the Public Accounts Committee provide the Treasurer with a draft budget for the Auditor-General's Office. It is intended that this relate primarily to performance audits the costs of which are not recovered by audit fees. The Bill also enables the presiding member of the Public Accounts Committee to request the independent auditor to conduct a performance audit of the operations of the Auditor-General.

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