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Wednesday, 27 May 1987
Page: 3463

(Question No. 5242)

Mr Downer asked the Minister representing the Minister for Finance, upon notice, on 25 March 1987:

(1) What action will the Minister take in response to the letter of 4 December 1986 from the Auditor-General concerning the 1985 audit of the Superannuation Fund Investment Trust.

(2) Will the Minister give further details as to how the matters of concern detailed in the letter arose.

Mr Hurford —The Minister for Finance has provided the following answer to the honourable member's question:

(1) Two reports dated 4 December 1986 were provided to the Minister for Finance, Senator Walsh, by the Auditor-General on his examinations of the Superannuation Fund Investment Trust; the first was the audit report on the 1985-86 financial statements and the second report concerned other matters relating to the general operations and reporting that were considered appropriate to bring to attention. On receipt of the reports Senator Walsh wrote to the Principal Member of SFIT seeking his comments and advice on the several matters raised. That response is being examined within the Department of Finance and in accordance with the usual practice will be provided to the Auditor-General, together with any additional advice of the Department, with a view to establishing that the remedial action taken resolves the queries to the Auditor-General's satisfaction.

(2) The Auditor-General's report on the financial statements was unqualified except in respect of the matter of overdrawing of the Fund which occurred twice during the financial year primarily as a consequence of clerical error. The Government is examining the recommendations and conclusions of a Service-wide efficiency scrutiny into aspects of the processing of accounts which, if accepted, should, together with further refinements being made to procedures within SFIT, largely overcome the problems that have contributed to SFIT's overdrawings.

As to the other matters of concern, these were brought to attention in detail by the Auditor-General in his further report of 4 December 1986 to the Minister which was tabled in the Senate on 17 February 1987 and in the House of Representatives on 18 February 1987. It should not be overlooked that the Auditor-General's report notes in some detail the continued improvements being made by SFIT through the development of new systems and procedures to support its significant investment operations and reporting.