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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1996 Week 6 Hansard (23 May) . . Page.. 1748 ..

MR WHITECROSS (continuing):

Just because the Auditor-General reports on the efficiency of operations, in terms of whether finance allocated to a task is effectively used to achieve the task, does not mean that we are not capable of simultaneously considering a report from somebody else suggesting that while that might be the case there are still problems with the operation of a program. I would commend that as the preferable model to the model of putting the Auditor-General in the position of having to juggle financial accountability, environmental considerations and social considerations. I think that that juggling act is the role of this Assembly and of the Government, not of the Auditor-General. I suggest that a better model would be one which saw specialist institutions doing that work and us doing the balancing of different considerations, rather than putting the Auditor-General in the position of having to report simultaneously on those different considerations.

MS TUCKER (6.42): I wish to respond to a couple of the points that were raised. Mrs Carnell does not seem to have noticed that in our amendment we say that the Auditor-General should consider broader issues "where appropriate". We are not saying that every single one has to be considered.

Mrs Carnell: Well, he can now.

MS TUCKER: You say that he can now, or she can now. That can be the role. That is exactly the point of putting it specifically into legislation - to acknowledge the importance of looking at these broader issues. We see that this person is, indeed, on the outputs committee, and there is great concern about the definition of outputs and the emphasis on measurable qualities, measurable definitions. We need to have a broad look when we have everything pinned down to the degree that this Government is doing in this model that it has produced, with its outputs and outcomes and measurement of delivery of everything. That is exactly what came up in the competition policy discussion as well.

I will just restate that we are saying "where appropriate". If you look at the performance audit, it is very strongly based on the definition of the activities. It is very clearly based on economic judgments. All we are asking is that there be an acknowledgment that there may be other judgments. There have been problems with past Auditor-General's reports because of that, and I have already mentioned that in my speech.

Amendment negatived.

Bill, as a whole, agreed to.

Bill agreed to.

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