Page 3883 - Week 09 - Thursday, 25 August 2011

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Public Accounts—Standing Committee

Report 19

MS LE COUTEUR (Molonglo) (11.58): I present the following report:

Public Accounts—Standing Committee—Report 19—Report on the 11th Biennial Conference of the Australasian Council of Public Accounts Committees (ACPAC), dated 9 August 2011, together with a copy of the extracts of the relevant minutes of proceedings.

I move:

That the report be noted.

I will only note the report because, due to the funeral of my father, I did not attend the conference.

MR SMYTH (Brindabella) (11.58): On behalf of the chair, I attended, and Mr Hargreaves did as well. As Ms Le Couteur has already said, personal circumstances prevented her attending what was a very good conference. Often people look at groups like the public accounts committees of Australasia getting together, roll their eyes and say, “Well, that must have been exciting.” Some of it perhaps was not as exciting as it could have been, but the interesting thing is that at the back of the report it actually lists all of the countries and jurisdictions that attended. West Australia, obviously, South Australia, Tasmania, Victoria, the ACT, New South Wales and the Northern Territory, as well as the commonwealth, all attended. As you would expect in an Australasian public accounts committee conference, New Zealand was there. We had representatives from Indonesia, Malaysia, Namibia, Kiribati, Tonga, Timor-Leste, the Mpumalanga province in South Africa, the Eastern Cape province, the Northern Cape province, Gauteng province, the Melaka State Legislative Assembly, Pahang in Malaysia, as well as other invited guests.

I think the lesson in that is that a lot of jurisdictions look to the way that we conduct our business in Australia, and they particularly look at financial scrutiny for guidance and assistance. As jurisdictions which, luckily, have had many decades of good governance in this country, we have a responsibility and an obligation to share it. There are many countries out there that do not have the committee systems that the Australian jurisdictions do. For instance, they do not have FOI acts, ombudsmen and those external organisations that allow them to look at the way the government conducts its business. In that regard it is very important that groups like public accounts committees get together. It is great that we are able to offer other jurisdictions the ability to come, to learn and to discuss—because that is the way we will change the way that business is done in some countries where it is not done as well as Australians are used to and as Australians have come to expect.

There were a number of interesting presentations. There were a number of committees and panels where we had discussion with other members. I sat on some;

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