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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 7 Hansard (24 June) . . Page.. 2265 ..



They have assured the committee that they do have enough money in their training budget to make sure that that sort of training is undertaken. It will need to be taken over time and it will be an evolving matter, particularly as to how social and environmental issues are audited. Just to confirm to the Assembly that the Public Accounts Committee is doing its job, I make those few points.

Members should also have received from me, on behalf of the committee, an invitation to morning tea on Friday to officially farewell the current Auditor-General, Mr Parkinson, who is retiring. I assure Ms Dundas that the money for that will be coming out of the committee secretariat's meagre cheese and bickies budget. I think that it would be appropriate for MLAs, given that many of us have had much to do with John over the years, to take the opportunity to come along on Friday and thank him for the work that he has done. I think that it would be fair to say that not all of us have agreed with him all of the time, but the work done is work that needs to be done and it is done to a high standard, as independent audits have proven over the years. With those few points in mind, the opposition will be supporting this line of expenditure.


(11.43): We all know that the Auditor-General is fundamental to the operation of our democracy. For example, it took a report by the Auditor-General before the criticism I raised about the misuse of the Treasurer's Advance was taken seriously. Without the Auditor-General's oversight of government administration, we could reasonably fear a decline in financial propriety. This essential role must be properly resourced and the Auditor-General must be able to function with fearless independence.

I note that the Auditor-General's budget has been increased by 2 per cent, which is less than the CPI forecast in this budget of 2.5 per cent. In light of projected inflation and recent enterprise bargaining negotiations that resulted in significant pay rises, it is hard to avoid the conclusion that the Auditor-General's capacity is effectively being reduced.

I hope that this will be addressed in future budgets, as we all do respect the work of the Auditor-General and recognise its importance in bringing people to account and keeping our democracy able to function. I do hope that we are not seeing a creeping shift through reduced accountability like was seen under Kennett in Victoria.


(11.44): I endorse the comments that have been made, but I would like to add the comment that we have had, through the Public Accounts Committee, interesting conversations with the Auditor-General's Office about the relationship between that office and the Office of Sustainability and the potential for the auditor in doing performance audits and financial audits to take into account the triple bottom line situation.

I think that we need to keep this conversation going because, hopefully, we are heading towards a form of triple bottom line reporting which will require the check for accountability that the Auditor-General brings to financial management to be brought eventually to meeting social and environmental responsibilities as well as economic responsibilities.

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