Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 7 Hansard (24 September) . . Page.. 2152 ..
Debate resumed from 23 June 1998, on motion by Mr Kaine:
That the report be noted.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Report on Review of Auditor-General's Report No. 9 of 1997
MR QUINLAN (11.20): Mr Speaker, I present Public Accounts Committee Report No. 7 of the Standing Committee for the Chief Minister's Portfolio, entitled "Review of Auditor-General's Report No. 9, 1997 - Fleet Leasing Arrangements", together with a copy of the extracts of the minutes of proceedings. I move:
That the report be noted.
Mr Speaker, first of all, let me advise the Assembly that Mr Trevor Kaine stood down from deliberation on this report because he had had some particular involvement, at least with fleet management, within the Government at the time.
The report has a fairly brief recommendation, but it is a recommendation that we would like the Government to act upon. I say that because somewhat earlier, a week or so ago, Mr Moore received, I think, three rather serious reports from the PAC, in relation to salaried specialists and nurses, and there were some public statements that committees were taking the advice of the Auditor-General literally and should be doing other things in terms of scrutiny of government.
In fact, we do take the Auditor-General's reviews and remarks seriously. I have to say that, in the particular cases, the resources he has allowed him to do a much more in-depth investigation than we would have been able to do. Very serious problems were recognised. The committee studied those particular reports quite assiduously. Let me tell you that I read them a couple of times to try to get my head around the whole process of salaried specialists, in particular, and the various levels of contracts. So please do not take the brevity of this particular recommendation as meaning that we do not need to react to it.
This particular exercise, I think, had a fair public airing when it was a contemporary issue. I have to make the following observations in relation to the fleet leasing exercise: First of all, it was not really an Urban Services exercise; it was more a Treasury and financing exercise. It appeared to me personally to have been a decision in search of a justification. The fleet was, effectively, sold for very little financial advantage, as the report notes. There was a considerable amount of debate in relation to how the thing should be accounted for - whether it was, in fact, borrowings or whether it was an operational lease. I think the Auditor-General prevailed. The Government has grudgingly accepted his recommendations in relation to how it should have been accounted for.