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Address to the Australian National Audit Office 110th Birthday Celebration

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Speech Address by The Hon Gary Gray, AO MP Special Minister of State, and Special Minister of State for Public Service and Integrity

Address to the Australian National Audit Office 110th Birthday Celebration by the Hon Gary Gray AO MP, Special Minister of State for the Public Service and Integrity I would like to acknowledge Robert Oakeshott MP, chair of the Joint Committee of Public Accounts and Audit, Ian McPhee, the ANAO staff and other special guests here today.

Ian, thank you for the invitation to attend today’s celebrations and for the opportunity to say a few words.

It is good to be with you again, and it is a great pleasure to be taking part in the ANAO’s 110th anniversary celebrations.

I take a great interest in the work of the Office and I endorse Rob Oakeshott’s remarks about the importance of the work undertaken by the ANAO; and the need to continually build on the sound working relationship that exists between the Joint Committee of Public Accounts and Audit and the ANAO.

It is important to the Parliament that the ANAO continues to undertake its assurance role as well as examining and reporting on the efficacy which government programs are delivered to the public.

I can tell you that sometimes the Government feels some discomfort following the tabling of an audit report.

However it is important that Government programs are put under such scrutiny and I see the longer term benefits that flow from the improvements made by government and public sector entities in the light of audit reports.

The Australian public rightly expects a high level performance from their Government and public service.

A quality public administration is one:

focused on efficient and effective resource management and service delivery; •

responsive to clients (government and the public); •

transparent; and •

ethical in its behaviour. •

Both the Government and the Parliament are very supportive of the work done by the ANAO in highlighting areas where agencies, and at times governments, can do better; and importantly, in identifying the critical factors for success.

I echo the Prime Ministers words in commending the ANAO for its work, you have made a truly remarkable contribution to public administration.

I understand that Ian’s predecessors also have a strong track record in reporting on weakness in public administration going back to the earliest days of Federation, including the very difficult times during both world wars and the depression.

The Audit Act 1901 was the fourth piece of legislation passed by the Parliament.

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It followed the passage of the two Supply Acts and the Acts Interpretation Act. Thus, the Office had its genesis in the earliest days of federation with the Treasurer of the day, Sir George Turner, introducing the Audit Bill into the House of Representatives on 5 July 1901.

He described it as a bill the legislature needed to enact in order that the work of the Government may be properly carried out. This sentiment still holds true 110 years later.

Today, providing advice to government and administering programs requires sound management approaches to deliver on government policies - but this does not come about by chance.

The Australian government public sector has evolved more than many would appreciate in the last 20 years with a stronger focus on outcomes, citizen centric approaches and joint approaches with other levels of government.

The ANAO has kept pace with these developments ensuring that it has maintained its capability to fulfil its statutory responsibilities to the Parliament and contribute to improvements in public administration.

Your ‘Better Practice Guides’ are very well received and assist in lifting the performance of the public sector.

The new challenge mentioned by Rob Oakeshott is to be ready to undertake the enhanced audit role envisaged under the Auditor-General Amendment Bill 2011.

I am confident that the ANAO has the capability and the organisational agility to meet this new mandate and deliver strongly in the years ahead.

Finally, Auditors-General cannot do their job without the professionalism and support of the ANAO staff - your work is unique and indispensable.

You all have been part of the ANAO story - and an enduring story that has been, with your genesis back to Federation.

You, Ian, and the 13 previous Auditors-General, and staff, past and present, have contributed greatly to the overall integrity of the Government, and you have every right to be proud of this accomplishment.

So I end with hearty congratulations to you, and your families, on this the ANAO’s 110th anniversary.

Thank you

Last Updated: 7 September, 2011

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