Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2017 Week 13 Hansard (Wednesday, 1 November 2017) . . Page.. 4774 ..
pointing out which payment the invoice is for, and put this in the delegate’s in-tray. This is very quaint and 1980s.
It is also risky from a financial control point of view. A good delegate will, of course, do the job diligently and check the invoice against the contract to make sure that everything is in order. The risk is that some delegates get too sloppy, busy or trusting of their staff. The result is potentially a wide open door for fraud. So, as I said before, we totally support the intent of Mr Coe’s legislation here. This is why we will be supporting Mr Barr’s motion tomorrow, because we need to work out how we can actually solve these problems. In respect of that one in particular, I suspect that in the long run it would be cheaper for the government to fix this particular systems issue.
I agree with Mr Barr’s comments that there will be IT costs, there will be staff training and potentially communicating a series of changes to the businesses that supply the ACT government. As Mr Barr said, we need always to appreciate that there is a trade-off between spending money on frontline services and spending money on fixing the government’s internal service systems.
But I do not think we should just say that it is too hard to link the invoices to contracts. It is not just a transparency issue. It is also a financial control issue. I really believe that if the government—not if, but when, because Mr Barr’s motion will require them to—looks at this, they will work out that there are potential savings in staff time by getting rid of the manual processes.
The Greens therefore will reluctantly be supporting the Chief Minister’s proposal that these elements are removed from the bill. But much more positively, we will be supporting the government’s commitment to the Assembly that it will investigate the systems changes needed and report back to the Assembly in the middle of next year.
I also agree with the Chief Minister’s decision to focus on the linking of invoices to contracts because of the broader issues this raises. I do believe that these changes are entirely doable and I do seriously thank Mr Coe for bringing this bill to the Assembly.
While unfortunately at this point in time it looks like only one of the four elements is going to be implemented, I think it is very useful that his bill has highlighted an important financial control issue. I am hopeful that in the not too far distant future the linking of contracts with invoices will be done and that Mr Barr’s motion tomorrow will ensure that that is put in train.
MR COE (Yerrabi—Leader of the Opposition) (10.52), in reply: Well, we have heard it all; and we have also heard very little. We have heard every excuse in the book as to why this government should not make public more of their expenditure. What is more, from Ms Le Couteur we heard, “I believe these changes are entirely doable,” but she is still not going to vote for it. For some reason, Ms Le Couteur, the IT whiz from a previous life, seems to think that it is impossible to change a query from $25,000 to $12,500. If Ms Le Couteur seriously believes it is impossible to change that query, then she should vote against amendment No 4. Amendment No 4 is very simple—it omits $12,500 and substitutes the “prescribed amount”. This is even worse than what it was before. Before it was $25,000. Now they are proposing to scrap the $25,000