Next page . . . . Previous page . . . . Speeches . . . . Contents . . . . Debates(HTML) . . . .

Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 11 Hansard (26 September) . . Page.. 3364 ..

MR SMYTH (continuing):

The proposal means that the territory's annual financial statements will be available for public scrutiny at an earlier point and they will also be more relevant to the period to which they relate. If there are concerns that this measure may have an adverse impact on the Auditor-General's workload, one approach would be for the Auditor to implement a program of continuous auditing during each financial year, thus facilitating the end of a year audit of the territory's financial statements.

Overall, the proposals in the bill do appear to be reasonable, as far as can be determined at this point, and will be supported. We do note again, however, a potential concern about the way in which surplus funds are managed across the ACT government agencies and we will be monitoring the use of this provision by the executive.

MS TUCKER (6.00): This bill contains a number of amendments to different parts of the Financial Management Act that have resulted from a review of the act by Treasury. The amendments remove some redundant requirements in the act and improve financial accountability by agencies. I will just mention a few of them that took my interest.

One aspect of the bill is to clarify the responsibilities of chief executives in relation to the financial targets they are expected to achieve and where changes are made to the performance criteria for the delivery of outputs. This is particularly relevant where there are transfers in functions or appropriations between departments or output classes over the financial year that are not part of the original budget.

A major change to the authorisation of expenditure of territory money is the removal of the warrant system. The use of warrants within the Westminster system goes back centuries. I believe that originally these were letters signed by the king or queen to allow the bearer of the letter to undertake some action on their behalf. However, with the introduction of computerised financial management and other administrative systems, the warrant system has become largely ceremonial, adding little to the process of financial control.

The bill also allows for Commonwealth payments for specific purposes to be more efficiently passed on to the relevant department. This is in response to a recommendation of the Estimates Committee. The bill provides for better management of surplus cash by allowing the executive to direct the transfer of surplus cash out of departmental banking accounts, where the money is not required for its original purpose, into a territory bank account for use or investment in other ways.

On the reporting side, the bill changes the time frame in which annual consolidated financial statements are prepared. At present, these are usually tabled in the Assembly in the December sitting, which is some five months after the end of the financial year. The amendments will bring this forward by at least a month.

Overall, these are good reforms to our financial system that, hopefully, will bring more transparency and accountability to the way that territory funds are spent. I will therefore be supporting the bill.


(6.03): Mr Speaker, this bill, on the whole, is a good attempt to refine some of the ambiguities inherent in the Financial Management Act and better define the roles and responsibilities of government departments. I applaud the moves to streamline

Next page . . . . Previous page . . . . Speeches . . . . Contents . . . . Debates(HTML) . . . .