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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2015 Week 05 Hansard (Tuesday, 5 May 2015) . . Page.. 1275 ..

There were concerns that if the government amendments were to pass, of course, it would take it beyond the election that will occur on the third Saturday in September next year. Again, annual reports paint a picture of the government’s management of the portfolios and it is important that, particularly in the lead-up to an election, the information is on the table as to how they have performed.

That goes to recommendation 3. Because of the limited time that we had, we did have material from the Auditor-General, and following the PAC’s meeting with the Chief Minister we received further correspondence from him. So as late as yesterday we were amending some of the report, as a letter arrived on 24 April. In it the Chief Minister said:

Annual Reports will … be tabled 15 weeks after the end of the financial year. As in past election years Reports will be signed by caretaker Ministers and tabled after elections.

That is quoted at paragraph 4.26 of the report. We go on to say:

The majority of the Committee is still of the view that the presentation date for annual reports should remain at 30 September.

We then go on to say, at paragraph 4.27:

The Committee also notes comment from the Auditor-General that:

The Audit Office considers that the reasons provided in the explanatory statement for extending the timeframe are not sufficient to warrant an extension to the submission date for annual reports. In particular … the claim in the explanatory statement that ‘three months does not provide sufficient time between the audit and submission of annual reports’ is not consistent with the results of audit work on the timeliness of annual reports.

The Auditor-General’s entire submission appears at appendix D of the report, if people want to read it. Quite clearly, the auditor believes that it can be done and that, consistent with the results of the timeliness, it has been done. With that in mind, recommendation 3 reads:

The Committee recommends that the reporting date for presentation of annual reports remain at 30 September.

I think there is some importance to this. You have only to look at the fact that Dr Bourke has just tabled a report from his committee regarding an inquiry into last year’s annual reports, and here we are in May. If we push from September back to the end of October, or any date later, it just continues to push it back. We get a build-up of work towards the end of the year, and then, with Christmas leave and school holidays, there is a period when public servants, and indeed ministers, are not available to discuss these things. If we want to get some value out of the annual reports and the annual report hearings undertaken by the standing committees in this place, it is important that they are done in a timely manner. That, of course, can only start when the annual reports are tabled. The fourth recommendation is:

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