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Inquiry finds Audit Commission process flawed



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TONY BURKE MP

SHADOW MINISTER FOR FINANCE MANAGER OF OPPOSITION BUSINESS MEMBER FOR WATSON

SENATOR THE HON KATE LUNDY SENATOR FOR THE ACT

MEDIA RELEASE

INQUIRY FINDS AUDIT COMMISSION PROCESS FLAWED

A Senate inquiry report into the Government’s Commission of Audit provides a damning insight into the process that formed a seminal part of Tony Abbott and Joe Hockey’s unfair and unpopular budget.

Shadow Finance Minister Tony Burke and ACT Senator Kate Lundy condemned the lack of transparency and process of the Commission of Audit and called on the Government to implement the Senate inquiry’s recommendations.

Mr Burke called on the Government to release the evidence base for each of the Commission’s recommendations.

“This report formed a significant part of Tony Abbott and Joe Hockey’s unfair budget and people deserve to know on what evidence the Commission made its recommendations for deep cuts and unfair changes,” Mr Burke said.

“We know that the process of conducting the Commission of Audit was done in a secretive manner and is typical of how this Abbott Government operates.”

Mr Burke said the Opposition also supports calling on the Government to provide a response by 31 December 2014 to each of the Commission of Audit’s recommendations.

“Act one of this report resulted in cuts to pensions, an increase in the retirement age and the introduction of a tax on visiting the doctor, people deserve to know if the Government is planning an act two,” Mr Burke said.

“Joe Hockey and Tony Abbott deliberately held off on releasing the Commission of Audit report until well after the South Australian and Tasmanian state elections, and the Western Australian Senate election. How long will they keep Australians in the dark about what recommendations they still plan on implementing?”

Senator Lundy said the Commission failed to be forthcoming with the Senate Committee inquiry, creating the impression that it and the Government were deliberately avoiding public scrutiny.

“When the Committee asked the Commission to provide their costings they admitted that these had not been prepared for all of its recommendations,” Senator Lundy said.

“When we asked the Commission to provide the evidence behind its recommended GP Tax, a policy adopted by the Government in its 2014-15 Budget, the Commission admitted that the evidence ‘relied on was basically just the ever increasing cost’.

“In general the Commission’s recommendations appear to be backed up by little or no evidence.”

Senator Lundy added her concerns the Audit Commissioners had a predetermined and unjustified view of the Australian Public Service.

“From the outset, the Commission assumed that the Australian Public Service was too large and inefficient, ignoring the fact that Australia has one of the most efficient public services in the world,” Senator Lundy said.

“Canberrans in particular have cause to be outraged by these flawed processes - the Commission’s recommendation to slash the Public Service will see thousands of jobs lost in our city over the coming years.

“In recommending these cuts the Commission did not consider the hardships faced by the individual public servants who would lose their jobs, the loss of services to the public or the flow-on effects to the local Canberra economy.”

THURSDAY, 19 JUNE 2014