Page 2852 - Week 10 - Tuesday, 13 August 2013
attempt to reach the target of equal expenditure on both performance audits and the financial audits is again delayed, and it is delayed significantly through the outyears.
There was some tripartisan agreement when Mr Hargreaves and Ms Le Couteur were here and members of the PAC. We said there should be a path that would see an extra performance audit or two done every year. Building up to about 16 would be relative with the cost of running the financial audits. That, of course, has now been reneged on. Additional funding or projected funding has disappeared, and I think that is a shame. The audit office needs to be properly funded, particularly in this jurisdiction where we only have a one house parliament. In that case officers like the Auditor-General and the Auditor-General’s Office become very, very important.
It is interesting in the light of the fact that we passed amendments just last week to the Auditor-General Act that gives her more power and potentially tasks her with doing combined inquiries with state and federal governments and, indeed, doing audits of government moneys that have been handed over to non-government organisations. We have asked her to take on a bigger role, but we have not given her the resources to do that should it be required. I think that is a shame. That said, the opposition are very supportive of the line and very supportive of the Auditor-General’s Office.
MR HANSON (Molonglo—Leader of the Opposition) (12.20): I will speak briefly to this line. I think the idea that the funding be essentially set by PAC is a good one. Despite the rhetoric from the Chief Minister and the government that this is an open and accountable government and it wants transparency, it is clear that that is not the case, and you could argue that in any number of areas. I think we just went through that this morning with the vote of no confidence. The Auditor-General is an individual, but the resources she has in terms of legislative powers and staff are invaluable for this community to scrutinise the government. A number of the reviews she has done—certainly the ones I am aware of—have had significant effect in improving what this government is producing.
I particularly reflect upon the review she did of elective surgery. I think that was a very useful review and very useful audit. It provided a number of good initiatives for the government. She also has a job to do where things go wrong with this government, and we saw that with the Auditor-General’s review into the ED doctoring, where somebody has to go in there and ask the hard questions. It is really only the Auditor-General who has the ability to do that sort of work.
If the government is essentially setting the parameters on how much the Auditor-General gets, then, no doubt, the government is going to screw that down and make sure the Auditor-General is not doing as many reviews as she could—which is what is occurring—whereas the Assembly would, I imagine, have a different view.
I will quote from my budget reply speech:
That is why we should do everything we can to make sure that scrutiny and accountability of this government is maximised. In response to the government's malaise, today I call for the funding to the Auditor-General to be increased so that the number of performance audits she conducts is doubled by the next election in 2016.