Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 12 Hansard (12 November) . . Page.. 3470 ..
MS TUCKER (continuing):
be able to comply with the legislation with confidence, because they would have signed, and hopefully that would have prompted them to look at each contract.
I understand Mr Quinlan saying that it is too much work for the benefit, but I guess that is a judgment call on how important accountability is in this area. From the work I have done in various fora around different conferences that have looked at accountability of government, I know that accountability for government expenditure of public funds is right up the top in importance.
This is about spending public money. At this time government is purchasing a lot of services outside, much more than used to be the case. For that reason, I think this amendment is very important. I understand that it may make more work for chief executives, but I also believe that it is important enough to warrant that work.
MS DUNDAS (5.21): I find it quite ironic that today, when we have already talked about this government's backflipping and inability to keep promises, the Treasurer no longer supports the August 2001 recommendation of the Standing Committee on Finance and Public Administration, which the minister chaired, that CEOs "certify, in writing, to the Auditor-General that the details of contracts and amendments provided for the register are full and accurate details of the contracts"and do so within the time period required. This is what the Treasurer wanted when he was in opposition, but now he is in government he no longer cares about accountability, as it appears it is all too hard.
If a CEO cannot take responsibility and cannot certify that they are ensuring compliance, and if this is not a key role of a CEO, then I fail to see what we expect them to do. With financial statements, the CEO and the minister sign to say they are a true and accurate representation of their department. We ask for this level of accountability when we talk about money but not here.
The bill provides that CEOs must ensure compliance. This is symbolically important, but it is difficult to see how this in itself will change the attitudes of departments that have not complied in the past. If we are serious about accountability and if we are serious about people in our departments and elected representatives taking responsibility, then I urge you all to reconsider the decisions you have reached and support my amendment so that we can have true open accountability as opposed to again just pretty words on a piece of paper. If the Treasurer has changed his mind once over the last two years on this issue, then hopefully he can change it again.
That Ms Dundas' amendment be agreed to.