Page 5406 - Week 15 - Tuesday, 8 December 2009

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Public Accounts—Standing Committee

Report 5

MS LE COUTEUR (Molonglo) (10.03): I present the following report:

Public Accounts—Standing Committee—Report 5—Review of Auditor-General’s Report No 4 of 2008: Maintenance of Public Housing, dated 2 December 2009, together with a copy of the extracts of the relevant minutes of proceedings.

I move:

That the report be noted.

First of all, I would like to note the contribution of the secretariat. Our previous secretary, Ms Cullen, is unfortunately, or hopefully fortunately, from her point her view, on leave writing her PhD. This time, for the first time we were assisted by Glenn Ryall, and we also had the benefit of Ms Samara Henriksen and, as usual, Lydia Chung, in terms of producing the report. I also note that Mr Hargreaves, the newest member of the committee, did not take part in any of the deliberations because, of course, he was the relevant minister for what we were inquiring into.

The next thing I would like to talk about is the process that the committee used. As members may be aware, part of PAC’s remit is to look at all the performance audits that the Auditor-General does, which means that we have a steady stream of work every year. Unfortunately, we have found it necessary to look at streamlining and rationalising that to some extent. We have thought about how we should best do this, and we have ended up deciding that there are four options available to the committee when we consider reports from the Auditor-General.

We may inquire into the report by way of a specific inquiry where submissions are called for, there are public hearings et cetera, and the results of a full inquiry are presented to the Assembly. That is what we have done traditionally in the past. Hopefully, if we manage to get it finalised in time, you will see the results of that on Thursday, with the report on the data centre.

The problem with that approach is that it is a very fulsome approach. Given the number of reports that the Auditor-General produces each year, the committee has found that, by using that approach, we are getting behind with respect to the Auditor-General’s workload. As well, the Auditor-General has already done a very good job on some of these things and there really is not any value that the committee can add—or there is not always significant value that the committee can add—by doing a more fulsome inquiry.

We have considered a secondary or different form of inquiry, which is what we used in this case. We inquire into the report as part of a periodic public hearing program. In this case, the audited agencies and the responsible minister are invited to appear at a hearing, and a summary report or a standing order 246A statement is presented to the Assembly. Of course, we still have two other options—to refer the report to another committee for their consideration where it more naturally falls there, or to determine that the report does not warrant further inquiry.

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