Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2016 Week 01 Hansard (Tuesday, 9 February 2016) . . Page.. 57 ..
Auditor-General—engagement of strategic reviewer
Statement by Speaker
MADAM SPEAKER: Before I call the Chief Minister, I wish to advise the Assembly that pursuant to section 25(2) of the Auditor-General Act 1996 I have engaged an appropriately qualified person under a contract to undertake a strategic review of the Auditor-General. The engagement of the strategic reviewer follows a request from the Standing Committee on Public Accounts pursuant to section 25(1) of the Auditor-General Act and the completion of the procurement exercise. I also consulted with the Deputy Speaker prior to engaging the reviewer.
The reviewer I have engaged is a former Auditor-General of both Western Australia and Victoria, Mr Des Pearson. I have written to the Chair of the Standing Committee on Public Accounts advising of the engagement and noting the committee’s obligation pursuant to paragraph 26(1)(a)(ii) of the Auditor-General Act to ask the strategic reviewer to conduct the review according to the terms of reference agreed to by the committee.
I have also written to the Chief Minister, the Leader of the Opposition, executive members and the Auditor-General advising of the engagement and noting relevant provisions of the Auditor-General Act. Mr Pearson will report to me on this review in June 2016 and I will subsequently present a copy of the report to the Assembly.
This is the first time, members, that provisions of the Auditor-General Act 1996 requiring the Speaker to engage a strategic reviewer have been put into effect. I observe that the process was a relatively cumbersome one, and I query whether there is an opportunity to bring a greater efficiency and clarity into the arrangements.
The particular areas I consider might benefit from further examination include providing clarity around the funding arrangements for the review, which are currently not stipulated in the act, and on this occasion the review will be funded by the Audit Office without additional appropriation; whether or not the public accounts committee should have a more significant role in selecting the strategic reviewer than is currently provided for in the act; whether the chronology of the engagement process provided for in the act is a logical one.
Paragraph 26(1)(a)(ii) requires that the public accounts committee ask the strategic reviewer to conduct the review according to the terms of reference after the reviewer has already been engaged by the Speaker. It would appear to make more sense for the Speaker to make this request of the strategic reviewer on behalf of the committee as part of the procurement and contract-making process.
I will discuss these matters with the public accounts committee in due course but wish to provide this information for the consideration of members given that it is the first time that the relevant provisions have been utilised to ensure the openness and transparency of the engagement.