Next page . . . . Previous page . . . . Speeches . . . . Contents . . . . Debates(HTML) . . . .

Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1996 Week 4 Hansard (18 April) . . Page.. 1057 ..

MR WOOD (continuing):

The second audit, that dealing with non-salary entitlements of senior government officers, sampled payments during 1994 and, in some cases, 1993 and included a number of chief executives and SES officers. Areas reviewed included leave, domestic travel, official hospitality expenditure, use of credit cards and petty cash and acceptance of gifts. Generally, the audit found that allowances and benefits were in accordance with applicable policies, guidelines and legislation and were incurred in the interests of the ACT Government and/or the ACT community.

Nevertheless, the audit did uncover a number of anomalies, specifically in regard to the use of first-class travel within Australia, the use of frequent flier points and the acceptance of gifts, and made recommendations accordingly. These recommendations were taken up with the Chief Minister, who satisfied the committee that action had already been taken or was under way to address the anomalies. The committee has recommended that documentary evidence be provided to the Assembly on action taken in relation to frequent flier points and acceptance of gifts.

The audit was particularly concerned about activities within ACTEW in relation to the provision of staff amenities in the form of morning and afternoon teas, farewell parties and various other celebratory functions of benefit to the staff, which were paid for from ACTEW funds. The audit noted that expenditures of this nature were regarded in other ACT government agencies to be of a private nature and payable by the staff. These matters were taken up with the responsible Minister and with the Chief Minister, and the committee was advised that, with one exception, the expenditures were in line with practice in similar businesses. The committee was advised that these matters are the responsibility of the ACTEW board, that some aspects are part of a longstanding industrial agreement, that meeting these costs can be beneficial to organisational harmony and productivity and that the strategies are set out in ACTEW's corporate plans.

The committee is concerned that these expenditures are not in accord with the spirit of conserving public funds. The committee considers that ACTEW has been rather indulgent in these matters and firmly believes that ACTEW, no less than other government agencies, has a responsibility to ensure that due economy is exercised in its management of public assets. Particularly in relation to ACTEW, the cost of the corporation's services is reflected in the bills presented to the users of those services, that is, the ACT public. The committee also has some difficulty in accepting that the responsible Minister has a limited role in relation to the day-to-day running of ACTEW. The committee's views on this aspect and its concerns in relation to the audit findings are presented in the report, and the committee has recommended that the Government address those concerns in its response to the Assembly.

Debate (on motion by Mr De Domenico) adjourned.

Next page . . . . Previous page . . . . Speeches . . . . Contents . . . . Debates(HTML) . . . .