Page 2108 - Week 06 - Thursday, 26 June 2008

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It is very sad that we have got to a stage that the Auditor-General of the ACT has 75 performance audits on her list that she thinks are important, or have been suggested to her by either, say, the opposition or the committee and she thought that it was important enough that they be added to her list, but the government is not giving her the resources to do this.

You have not answered the question: why won’t the government properly fund the Auditor-General? Perhaps the simple answer is that they are afraid of the scrutiny that might be revealed about the process of things like the transfer of the emergency services headquarters to Fairbairn, the process which was involved in the site selection, and many of the other things that clearly the government has got wrong. But there are 75 audits waiting to be done and no funds available to allow them to happen.

I would like the Chief Minister to take seriously recommendation 54 from the committee. But the government response states:

Not Agreed.

The Government expanded the Auditor General’s compliance and performance audit capacity by $0.5 million (indexed) in the 2006-07 Budget.

This is now the 2008-09 budget, the weight of mismanagement of the Stanhope government is now bearing down directly on the shoulders of the Auditor-General and she has 75 performance audits that she would like to conduct, or on her list for consideration, and she does not have the resources to do them.

It would be great to see the Chief Minister and the Treasurer stand up and say: “Yes, I agree with you. We are honest, we are open, we are accountable. We are not afraid of the scrutiny of the Auditor-General and we will fund her to do her job as the people of the ACT would expect, and I will now agree with recommendation 54 and give the auditor the $200,000 which would allow her to be compliant with the standards and allow her to carry out the additional work that is clearly required to inquire into the activities of this government.”

DR FOSKEY (Molonglo) (5.16): This year the ACT government did not grant the increase to the Auditor-General’s Office proposed by the Auditor-General and supported by the public accounts committee. It was not a big bid: $210,000 to procure additional resources to meet the new professional standard of accounting for quality assurance for auditing firms. The Auditor-General’s Office is an auditing firm as defined in legislation. Without the requested funding, resources will have to be taken from elsewhere. It is disappointing that the government failed to grant the Auditor-General’s request although the PAC’s letter supported it.

All the audits performed by the Auditor-General’s Office under the Financial Management Act must meet APS 320, the professional standard for audits of companies, and these are the standards that must be applied to a department or an authority. In order to comply, the office will have to squeeze resources from somewhere else. We were told that an equivalent of two staff will have to be removed from the audit team of eight because the financial audits have to be done. Tu Pham

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