Page 2484 - Week 09 - Tuesday, 6 August 2013

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MR DOSZPOT: Scrutiny Report 9 contains the committee’s comments on 12 bills, 12 pieces of subordinate legislation and three government responses. The report was circulated to members when the Assembly was not sitting. I commend the report to the Assembly.

Auditor-General Amendment Bill 2013

Debate resumed from 9 May 2013, on motion by Ms Gallagher:

That this bill be agreed to in principle.

MR SMYTH (Brindabella) (11.02): The opposition will be supporting this bill. As the Chief Minister outlined in her tabling speech, the bill includes a number of elements, including amendments to clarify the independence of the Auditor-General, and I think all of us support the independence of the Auditor-General. It requires the Auditor-General to develop and consult on an annual performance audit program, which, of course, she currently does. Since my time in this place Auditors-General have all consulted on their annual performance audit project, but there is no harm in having it clarified in legislation.

One of the important parts is the next dot point, which is to provide a new power for audit of non-government entities in receipt of government funding but subject to some prerequisites set out in the bill. Of course, this is the follow-the-money amendment. Where government gives organisations funding through the appropriation process, through the funds and grants various directorates give out and through tenders, it is important that we actually get what we pay for. It will be interesting to see how this amendment works in reality.

It is a big step because it takes the role of the auditor beyond the standard function of just simply looking at government bodies. So it will be with some interest that I suspect we will all watch this. I am not expecting it to be used a large number of times, but I think we have all had, from time to time, complaints from constituents who think government’s money has been abused in private organisations. To have the ability to track that money and make sure it is being spent on what it was given for is a good concept.

The last dot point is a broader approach to performance audits of the Auditor-General to a wider concept of strategic review and a fixed time frame in each parliamentary term for the conduct of such reviews. It is interesting that we talk about a broader approach to performance audits because, of course, every performance audit costs. What is not in this bill is an indication that this government believes the Auditor-General deserves additional funding. Many would know that, for a long time, I have pushed for funding in the audit office to be basically equal between performance audits and the financial audits.

Of course, financial audits which are mandated under law must come first. But we notice that the number of performance audits really has been staggered now for some years. The government always cries hard times, “You can’t fund the audit,

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