Page 2853 - Week 10 - Tuesday, 13 August 2013

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I repeat that that is what this government should be doing. Instead of trying to prevent the Auditor-General from doing more reviews, the Chief Minister should be encouraging and supporting and funding. As Smyth pointed out, there is actually a cost benefit to that. Because of the recommendations for enhancements and improvements to government that will be made, you actually get bang for your buck out of that. As the opposition we repeat that call for the Auditor-General to be properly funded. It is not going to happen in this budget, clearly, but it is something I hope to see come forward in next year’s budget.

MS GALLAGHER (Molonglo—Chief Minister, Minister for Regional Development, Minister for Health and Minister for Higher Education) (12.23): The 2013-14 budget continues funding for the independent work of the Auditor-General. The office of the Auditor-General conducts financial and performance audits and reports the results of these audits through to the Assembly. The audit office works to improve the delivery of public services by drawing the attention of ACT government agencies to those where the delivery of public services could be improved and providing practical recommendations and advice to ACT government agencies on how improvements could be made.

With the passage of the amendments to the Auditor-General Act last week there is likely to be greater attention given to private sector and non-government organisations as part of the expected new follow-the-dollar powers. The Auditor-General Act delivers on the government’s agreed recommendations in its response to the Standing Committee on Public Accounts report 15, Inquiry into the ACT Auditor-General Act 1996. The changes also complement the ACT government’s ongoing commitment to strengthening performance, accountability and openness across all aspects of government operations.

In relation to the setting of the budget, there are some issues around who can set budgets for the purposes of appropriation, and I think we have articulated those concerns in this place before. I also remind members that funding was increased to the Auditor-General recently through the functional review process. My understanding was further budget increases were not sought this year, but we keep an eye on this and we recognise the importance of the role of the Auditor-General. We respect the independence of the Auditor-General. Indeed, the upcoming tabling of the officer of the assembly bill will further strengthen the independence of the Auditor-General.

Proposed expenditure agreed to.

Proposed expenditure—Part 1.3—Chief Minister and Treasury Directorate—$59,833,000 (net cost of outputs) and $2,651,000 (capital injection) totalling $62,484,000.

Debate interrupted in accordance with standing order 74 and the resumption of the debate made an order of the day for a later hour.

Sitting suspended from 12.26 to 2.30 pm.

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