Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2005 Week 08 Hansard (Tuesday, 28 June 2005) . . Page.. 2338 ..
increasing this appropriation the government is saying they do not care that the auditor will not be able to operate in a timely and efficient manner.
Worse than that, this will have an effect on some of her statutory obligations—for instance, to inquire into reports of whistleblowers who bring information to her. My memory is that that is what the auditor also said in the estimates hearing. So, essentially, the role of the auditor is being hindered by a lack of resources. You have to remember that this is a government that talked about being more honest, more open, more accountable, more transparent—up to the point that we will allow the auditor to do more performance audits into what this government has been up to.
More important than the capacity of the auditor, especially in relation to the undertaking of performance audits, is that it be increased as soon as possible. It is important to the Assembly and its scrutiny of the activities of the public sector, and to the community, that appropriate scrutiny is made by the auditor of the public sector. I think it is important that we continue to argue for appropriate resources to be provided to the auditor. It is interesting to read the recommendation from the Select Committee on Estimates. It says:
The Committee recommends that the Government provide additional funding to the Auditor-General’s Office in line with the recommendation made by the Standing Committee on Public Accounts to the Treasurer in its letter of 24 March 2005.
It is interesting to put on the record the government’s response to recommendation 11 because it is the sort of halfway house response that you often get from this government. It says that in 2005-06 they gave them an additional $75,000, increasing to $133,000 in 2008-09, to meet increased accommodation costs. Accommodation is important but I think that, in the perspective of the Assembly, it is far more important to get the reports we need to do our job properly. This comes on top of capital funding of $650,000 provided in the 2004-05 budget—well done, Treasurer—for the fit out of the Auditor-General’s Office; but, again, it is about the physical office, not the work they do. Furthermore in 2004-05, there was additional recurrent funding of $300,000 to increase the auditor’s operating capacity. This has been an ongoing saga to gradually ramp up the funding that goes into the audit office. In 2004-05 there was recognition—I think we should give some credit to the government for that—but the auditor has come back and said that she is still unable to do her job. She has asked for a very small amount of money—$350,000-odd—which we believe would assist her in doing those performance audits.
Mr Quinlan: She got $75,000; she didn’t get $300,000.
MR SMYTH: $375,000 in the coming year. That highlights that this government has got its priorities so incredibly wrong that they cannot find $375,000 at the direct request of the Auditor-General of the ACT to allow her and her staff to do their job appropriately and properly in support of the Assembly.
MR QUINLAN (Molonglo—Treasurer, Minister for Economic Development and Business, Minister for Tourism, Minister for Sport and Recreation, and Minister for