Page 3882 - Week 12 - Thursday, 29 October 2015

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Auditor-General’s report No 1 of 2015—government response

Paper and statement by minister

MR BARR (Molonglo—Chief Minister, Treasurer, Minister for Economic Development, Minister for Urban Renewal and Minister for Tourism and Events): For the information of members, I present the following paper:

Auditor-General’s Act, pursuant to subsection 17(6)—Auditor-General’s Report No 1/2015—Debt Management—Government response.

I seek leave to make a statement in relation to the paper.

Leave granted.

MR BARR: Today I am tabling the government response to Auditor-General’s Report No 1 of 2015 on debt management, which was tabled in the Assembly in February of this year. The government welcomes the Auditor-General’s report and its independent view of the effectiveness of the territory’s debt management arrangements. I am pleased to advise the Assembly that the report does not identify any serious weaknesses in the current debt management arrangements within ACT government entities. I repeat: I am pleased to advise that the report does not identify any serious weaknesses in the current debt management arrangements. In fact, the report states that the five directorates selected for detailed analysis as part of the audit had overall sound procedural and administrative arrangements for debt management.

The report makes nine recommendations aimed at strengthening the existing arrangements for collecting, monitoring and reporting debt by ACT government entities, specifically debt owed by non-ACT government entities. The government agrees to two, agrees in principle to one, and notes the remaining six recommendations in the report.

While the government appreciates the extensive work undertaken by the Auditor-General in this audit and the possible areas of improvement highlighted in the report, as the Auditor-General notes, this is a complex issue and a one-size-fits-all approach is not suitable in this instance. The implementation of the six recommendations that are noted in the government response is constrained by a number of complexities, including agency-specific legislation and policies, variability of debts, social sensitivities, and commercial and ICT considerations. These issues make it challenging to implement consistent, meaningful and cost-efficient improvements for broad application by agencies.

The government, however, always seeks to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of its operations. As a result, the government is implementing alternative strategies to further improve its debt management practices, taking into consideration the costs and benefits of changing its current approach. The targeted alternative strategies specified in the government response are aimed at achieving the desired outcomes for the audit recommendations as far as is reasonably feasible and justifiable within the constraints I have specified.

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