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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 11 Hansard (8 December) . . Page.. 3232 ..

MS CARNELL (continuing):

In presenting this response, I am pleased to note that the Auditor-General commented favourably on the tender evaluation process for the vehicle fleet leasing arrangements. However, the Auditor-General raised some issues of a highly technical nature relating to the evaluation of risks, benefits and the accounting treatment of the transactions.

In reviewing the Auditor-General's report, the committee made only the one general recommendation - that the Government take note of the audit concerns expressed in this case. The general nature of this recommendation, I believe, reflects the highly technical nature of the issues covered in the Auditor-General's report, issues for which even the experts differ in opinion as to the correct treatment.

The committee commented on two specific issues - the assessment of risk in relation to the leasing arrangements, and the decision to not undertake an open tender process for the provision of comprehensive insurance for the fleet. The Government's response addresses the issues. The response acknowledges that there is always room for improvement in operations and procedures.

Notwithstanding the high-quality analysis undertaken for the fleet lease arrangements, it is recognised that the importance of comprehensive analysis cannot be underestimated. The Government will seek continual improvement in the standard of evaluation and analysis in respect of arrangements of this nature.

The Government is also acutely aware of taking all possible steps to ensure that it obtains the best value for money under the circumstances. Consequently, the advice of the Auditor-General is noted for similar arrangements in the future. Mr Speaker, I thank the members of the committee for their contribution to this review.

MR QUINLAN (4.09): Let me say for the record that there was some technical argument in this particular report; but, in fact, there was more controversy than technical argument. When the committee did recommend that the Government take note of the recommendations, that was not just saying, "We are satisfied with the way things were". Quite to the contrary, the recommendations showed that this particular exercise ended with little or no financial benefit to the people of the ACT, even though the light fleet was sold off, and that the accounting treatment of it was certainly controversial, to the point where it made a significant difference to how this particular exercise was presented to the people of Canberra. On both counts, I think, the Government stood condemned. I would reiterate on behalf of the committee that the Government should take note of this particular audit report, particularly in light of what we have been debating of recent times - that we have sold off here an asset for little or no financial benefit whatsoever, we have increased our financial exposure and we tended to sell it as something that it was not.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

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