Page 2670 - Week 08 - Tuesday, 23 June 2009

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many opportunities—I do not get letters from his public servants; I do not get called a sexist or an ageist; I do not get attacks on me personally. What happens is that Mr Hargreaves knows, because he is old school—and I am not saying—

Debate interrupted in accordance with standing order 74 and the resumption of the debate made an order of the day for a later hour.

Sitting suspended from 12.30 to 2 pm.

Questions without notice

Auditor-General’s Office—funding

MR SESELJA: My question is to the Chief Minister. Chief Minister, you said this on 19 June 2009 regarding funding for the Auditor-General:

I think there’s potential for a very hard look at efficiencies within the Auditor-General’s office. I think perhaps it’s time for the Auditor-General’s office to be audited so we can have a look at the appropriateness of the level of her funding.

Chief Minister, why did you make this veiled threat to the Auditor-General?

MR STANHOPE: I was responding to a question from a WIN Television journalist in relation to the recommendation in the estimates report that the Auditor-General’s funding allocation be increased. That was a recommendation made by the estimates committee, as I think we are all aware. There was a dearth of analysis contained within the estimates report in relation to the basis on which the estimates committee came to that particular conclusion or recommendation.

As members would be aware from the response to the estimates report tabled by the Treasurer this morning, the government, in its response, has essentially echoed the comments that I made in response to a question from WIN Television on Friday in relation to the recommendation, namely, that before accepting or agreeing to that recommendation the government believes it appropriate to undertake an analysis of the appropriateness of the level of funding which the Auditor-General receives. In that regard, I drew attention to the fact—and it was a fact—that information had been provided to the government in the context of preparing a response to the estimates report.

I have to say that this was not information that I was aware of until last week, which was information which was provided in direct response to the recommendation by the estimates committee that the Auditor-General’s funding be increased. I was aware, of course, that over recent years there had been a significant increase in funding for the Auditor-General, an increase in funding as a result of decisions that this government had taken. I was also aware, in the context of the current financial circumstance and the decision that the Treasurer had announced that we would be looking to all agencies to respond to the current financial crisis, a crisis impacting significantly on our budget to the tune of an over $200 million turnaround, that all ACT government-funded agencies, except two, namely, the Auditor-General and the Legislative Assembly, would be required to find significant savings.

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