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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2001 Week 7 Hansard (20 June) . . Page.. 2213 ..

MR QUINLAN (continuing):

As I said, there would not be much left in the bill after those things were taken out. We do believe that the powers of the Auditor to set his agenda, to a large extent, are pretty well in place now. I have to agree with the government on the additional funding question. I have been doing that a little bit lately and I feel uncomfortable with it; nevertheless, I agree with the government. We do not think that we should legislate for that power to rest anywhere other than with the government. We have, in fact, negotiated with Mr Osborne's office for a watering down of that provision-from "the Treasurer must" to "the Treasurer may"-in order that the Auditor could have an avenue for sensibly applying for additional funding if the need was there and for a committee of the Assembly to be aware of his particular needs and to make representations on his behalf once they had assessed those needs. But at the end of the day the expenditure and the power of approval must rest with the Treasurer, which is rather consistent with most of what we have been saying here as we have spent a lot of time today violently agreeing with each other as well as violently disagreeing with each other over principles applying to matters financial. On balance, I do not think that we can support the bill; but, if it gets to the detail stage, we will be happy to work through the difficulties we have.

MS TUCKER (5.37): I understand that this bill arose after Mr Osborne had discussions with a former New South Wales Auditor-General, Mr Harris, regarding the audit report on Bruce Stadium and that, in those discussions, a number of deficiencies in the Auditor-General Act were identified and are addressed in this bill. I understand that the legislation for the New South Wales Auditor-General was used as a model.

There are four main parts to the bill. The first part clarifies that the Auditor-General may comment on anything that he believes should be brought to the attention of the Assembly in relation to an audit. This is in response to the claim made by the government that the Auditor-General's inquiry into the Bruce Stadium redevelopment wrongly included comments on whether the redevelopment represented value for money. I certainly appreciated the Auditor's comments on that and I would not want to have those types of comments limited. I listened to Mr Humphries' argument. He did not seem comfortable with having those powers increased at all in terms of what was looked at and I do not think that Mr Quinlan was comfortable with it, either. I have not heard a really good argument about why the powers should not be increased. It seems a reasonable thing to me to do so. I will be supporting that, unless I decide otherwise as a result of debate in the detail stage.

Secondly, the bill allows for the Auditor-General's reports to be presented out of session and for all reports to be referred to the public accounts committee. There is also provision for the Auditor-General to appear before the committee to discuss the contents of each report. These inquiries already happen by convention, but there is currently no statutory requirement for them to occur. I understand that there is a complication with the tabling of reports out of session and that that part of the bill is going to be omitted in the detail stage. Once again, I will listen to what happens there in the detail stage, otherwise it sounds reasonable.

The third part allows for the Auditor-General to seek additional funding if he takes on performance audits and finds that he has not got the funds to complete the audits in a reasonable time. That was an issue with the Bruce Stadium audit, which took up a huge proportion of the Auditor's resources. I understand that this provision is to be amended so that the Treasurer will still have discretion over what additional funding is provided to

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