Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 12 Hansard (12 November) . . Page.. 3466 ..
MS TUCKER (continuing):
This amendment must be read in the context of how the act works. The act specifies that at the end of each six monthly period the Auditor-General must put together a list of contracts received from agencies and pass this on to the Public Accounts Committee. The act commenced on 21 December 2000, so the periods have so far ended on 21 June 2001, 21 December 2001 and 21 June 2002. The new requirements on chief executives introduced by this bill do not, however, start until the reporting period of 22 December 2002 to 21 June 2003. This means that the current reporting period that ends on 21 December 2002 is not covered by this bill.
I see no reason why we have to wait until June 2003 for these new provisions to be implemented, particularly when agencies should have been complying with this legislation right from the start and there are already administrative guidelines in place that agencies should be following. My amendment, therefore, changes the first reporting period to which this bill applies to the period from 22 June to 21 December 2002.
I recognise that this amendment contains an element of retrospectivity, in that chief executives will be required to ensure that contracts already let between 22 June and now comply with the act. However, as I said, I think chief executives should already be complying with the act. They certainly have had enough notice that the Assembly and the Auditor-General have not been happy with the way the act has been implemented so far. We should not have to be including in an act a section stating that chief executives must comply with the act. It should be an automatic requirement. If chief executives are not complying with the legislation, then they are not doing their job properly, and the executive should take appropriate action against them.
MR QUINLAN (Treasurer, Minister for Economic Development, Business and Tourism, Minister for Sport, Racing and Gaming and Minister for Police, Emergency Services and Corrections) (5.05): The rationale behind this bill is to cover the situation Ms Tucker referred to. An intent for registration was not complied with. It was therefore necessary to stiffen up the legislation. Going back to 22 June will create work that some poor sod will have to do.
Ms Tucker: Which they should have been doing anyway, under the act.
MR QUINLAN: It is still work that some poor sod will have to do. But the government does not see this as a major problem. When we look at accountability issues, which seems to be fashionable and an area for point scoring, I ask that we take into consideration the workload that it implies. We will not resist this amendment.
Amendment agreed to.
MS DUNDAS (5.06): I move amendment No 1 circulated in my name [see schedule 2 at page 3485].
This amendment tries to do what this bill sets out to do-make chief executive officers responsible for compliance with the act. What it asks is almost identical to what we ask agency heads to do when signing off on financial reports under the Financial Management Act. Without this amendment, I believe that we will fix nothing. The toothless tiger will continue, compliance rates will be down and the ACT public will be none the wiser as to what contracts are awarded and to whom.