Page 265 - Week 01 - Thursday, 17 February 2011

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I commend this report to the Assembly and I very much look forward to the minister’s response and the government’s formal response to it in the coming months.

Debate (on motion by Mr Barr) adjourned to the next sitting.

Public Accounts—Standing Committee

Report 15

MS LE COUTEUR (Molonglo) (11.12): I present the following report:

Public Accounts—Standing Committee—Report 15—Inquiry into the ACT Auditor-General Act 1996, dated 8 February 2011, together with a copy of the extracts of the relevant minutes of proceedings.

I move:

That the report be noted.

Today I am very pleased to present this report from the Public Accounts Committee inquiry into the ACT Auditor-General Act 1996. The committee’s inquiry has been an important opportunity for various aspects of the Auditor-General Act to be considered and suggestions for proposed amendments to be put forward and assessed.

The first observation that I would like to make I will make on my own behalf, but I believe that other members of the committee may share it: the Auditor-General is very well respected throughout the ACT community and public service and fulfils a very valuable role in the ACT and our parliamentary democracy.

The role of auditor-general is a key accountability mechanism in a Westminster democracy; in fact, I think all democracies generally have some sort of auditor-general person. The auditor-general’s role in the Westminster system is to provide a credible insurance to parliament as to government performance. They do that in two ways: financial audits and performance audits. In the ACT, we are particularly blessed, in my opinion, because our Auditor-General Act does have a strong emphasis on performance audits, which not all auditors-general do. So the role of the Auditor-General provides a very key accountability mechanism for the Assembly and for the wider ACT community; thus it is very important that we support this role and strengthen it where necessary.

This is the first full inquiry into the Auditor-General Act since it was enacted in 1996. The report has been significant in reviewing the extent and application of the act, firstly, to take into account significant changes within the public sector environment and the accounting and auditing professions; secondly, to take into account the broader role and mandate now expected of auditors-general; and, thirdly, to clarify and strengthen the act on the basis of its performance in meeting its objectives since it was enacted in 1996.

The committee has made 41 recommendations, which are wide ranging; I will not attempt to read and discuss them all in the short amount of time I have. Having run

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