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Public Accounts and Audit Committee Amendment (Ombudsman) Bill 2011

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(Circulated by the authority of Senator Bob Brown)




GENERAL OUTLINE: Policy Rationale


The purpose of this Bill is to expand the role of the Public Accounts and Audit Committee to provide similar duties in relation to the Commonwealth Ombudsman as it currently has in relation to the  Auditor General. In particular, this Bill would enable the Joint Parliamentary Committee of Public Accounts and Audit to consider the operations and resources of the Ombudsman, including funding and staff numbers.


Clause 1 - Short title


This clause provides for the bill, when enacted, to be cited as the Public Accounts and Audit Committee Amendment (Ombudsman) Act 2011.


Clause 2 - Commencement


This clause provides for the Act to commence on the day it receives Royal Assent.


Clause 3 - Schedule(s)


This clause provides that an Act that is specified in a Schedule is amended or repealed as set out in that Schedule, and any other item in a Schedule operates according to its terms.


Schedule 1 - Amendment of the Public Accounts and Audit Committee Act 1951


   Item 1 - Section 4 

This section inserts a definition of Ombudsman, to mean the Commonwealth Ombudsman.

Item 2 - After section 8, insert a new section 8AA Additional duties of the Committee - Ombudsman

Subsection (1) provides that in addition to the duties the Committee has under section 8, the following additional functions in relation to the Ombudsman also apply:

a) all reports tabled by the Ombudsman in each House of Parliament are to be examined by the Committee;

  b) the Committee may report to both Houses of Parliament, to draw the Parliament's attention to matters arising from accounts, statements and reports from the Ombudsman; 

c) the Committee may consider the operations of the Ombudsman, and resourcing level of the Office of the Ombudsman;
  d) the Committee may report to both Houses of Parliament on any matter listed in paragraph (c) or any other matter relating to the function and power of the Ombudsman, that the Committee considers should be drawn to the attention of Parliament; 

e) provides the Committee with the ability to report, at any time, to both Houses of Parliament on the performance of the Ombudsman;

f) ensures that any other duties given to the Committee by this Act is to be approved by both Houses of Parliament

Subsection (2) provides that nothing in Subsection (1) authorises the Committee to direct the activities of the Ombudsman.

Item 3 - Subsection 9(3)

This is a consequential amendment that simply inserts section 8AA after section 8A.