Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 2 Hansard (21 May) . . Page.. 472 ..
MR QUINLAN (continuing):
who performs the regular annual financial audit, from the appointment of the performance auditor, who monitors the actual effectiveness and efficiency, et cetera, of the Auditor-General. That legislation will propose that the latter be appointed by the committee.
Also in the pursuit of objectivity and as heralded by the Chief Minister in her speech, I bring forward an amendment to the original motion. The purpose of that is to put into effect what the Chief Minister has already made a commitment to; that is, the committee, effectively the Public Accounts Committee in this case, will set the guidelines for the terms of reference and will make the decision as to when the audit will take place, given the demands on the Auditor and, obviously, the potential for fertile ground for him that has arisen over the last couple of weeks in this place. I commend the amendment to the house and accept the motion.
MR SPEAKER: Formally move your amendment, Mr Quinlan.
MR QUINLAN: I move:
Omit all words after "the performance audit should include", substitute "terms of reference as determined by the Standing Committee for the Chief Minister's Portfolio incorporating the Public Accounts Committee, taking the Chief Minister's terms of reference included in the original motion as a guide.".
MS TUCKER (11.56): I agree with Mr Quinlan's concerns. This is a rather curious motion coming from the Chief Minister without prior discussion with the Chief Minister's Portfolio Committee. While audits of this nature are routine practice, the way the Chief Minister is attempting to execute this, in my view, is against the spirit of the Auditor-General Act. The Auditor-General Act explicitly establishes the Audit Office as a creature of the Assembly, not the Executive. Section 9 of the Auditor-General Act states:
The Auditor-General is not subject to direction by the Executive or any Minister in the performance of the functions of the Auditor-General.
While the Chief Minister is seeking support from the Assembly for this motion, it is clearly being driven from the Executive. It is the Public Accounts Committee, now part of the Chief Minister's Portfolio Committee, that should drive any such performance audit of the Auditor-General.
I would like to put on the record also my preference for such an audit to be conducted by a government audit office in another State, as they would have a much greater understanding of the nature of auditing procedures in the public sector than a private auditor would. Obviously, with the changes to the Auditor-General Act last year, making it possible for the Auditor, in doing performance audits, to look at environmental consequences and factors of an agency's performance, there is a broadening of