Page 2061 - Week 07 - Tuesday, 2 August 2016

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I move:

That the report be noted.

I am pleased to speak to report no 29 of the Standing Committee on Public Accounts, Inquiry into the 2016 Strategic Review of the ACT Auditor-General—Recommendations of Report. As members will be aware, the focus of the committee’s inquiry was in response to an Assembly reference of 9 June 2016. Specifically, the committee was asked to consider and make recommendations: (1) regarding the establishment of a term of appointment for the ACT Auditor-General to be included in the Auditor-General Act 1996; and (2) on any other matters raised in the report of the 2016 strategic review of the Auditor-General.

In its report the committee has made six recommendations, three pertaining to the reinstatement of an appointment term in the Auditor-General Act and three pertaining to other matters. I would like to make a few brief comments this morning as they relate to components of the Assembly reference, firstly, as to the establishment of a term of appointment for the ACT Auditor-General.

The principle of fixed non-renewable terms is well supported in literature, and it is an important accountability mechanism for safeguarding the independence of the designated office holders in both the private and public sectors. Fixed non-renewable terms are important safeguards to avoid an office holder becoming complacent in a role. They provide new perspectives via turnover and can limit opportunities for capture.

In the case of the ACT Auditor-General, the previously mandated seven-year non-renewable term was inadvertently removed from the Auditor-General Act as part of a suite of legislative changes in 2013. The committee considers that the seven-year non-renewable term which previously applied is consistent with the requirements for safeguarding independence, is of a reasonable length to provide the incumbent with a period of time to lead and manage the audit office, and considers the relationship between length of term and the parliamentary term electoral cycle, that is, it exceeds at least one electoral cycle. Accordingly, the committee has recommended that the seven-year non-renewable appointment term for the ACT Auditor-General be reinstated in the Auditor-General Act 1996.

The committee has also considered transitional arrangements pursuant to precedent that, when amending core accountability provisions, transitional arrangements between old and new legislation should ensure that the independence of an incumbent Auditor-General is not compromised. Accordingly, the committee has recommended that any subsequent amendments made to schedule 1—appointment and terms of office of Auditor-General—and section 8—appointment of the Auditor-General Act 1996—do not apply in respect of an appointment made before the commencement of any subsequent amendments.

Secondly, as to the other matters raised in the report, the committee has also carefully considered other aspects of the report of the strategic review and has made further

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