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Tuesday, 4 June 2013
Page: 5108

Mr OAKESHOTT (Lyne) (17:12): On behalf of the Joint Committee of Public Accounts and Audit, I present the committee's advisory report, incorporating a dissenting report, entitled Report 438: Advisory report on the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Bill 2013. I ask leave of the House to make a short statement in connection with the report.

Leave granted.

Mr OAKESHOTT: The report I have tabled today is the Joint Committee of Public Accounts and Audit's advisory report on the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Bill 2013. On 16 May the Selection Committee referred the bill to the committee asking us to form a view on whether combining the two acts into a single act would impose additional and unnecessary reporting requirements, result in any reduction in transparency or remove important oversight—that is, the CAC Act and the FMA Act. With the bill being introduced and referred in the last sitting period prior to the scheduled end of this parliament, the committee's examination of the bill has sought to balance the need for speed with the importance of providing sound advice to the parliament. On this basis we did not examine the bill clause by clause but instead focused on the broader issues raised in the explanatory memorandum and those mentioned in the referral. We held a public hearing and received 20 submissions that helped inform our views.

This bill stems from the Commonwealth Financial Accountability Review undertaken by the Department of Finance and Deregulation. The reforms coming out of the review are important for Australia's public sector and look to be broadly supported by key stakeholders across the board. However, in talking to a range of stakeholders we noted a level of nervousness in regard to the transition from the general concept of reform to this principle based legislative framework and around the next stage then onto the detailed rules. On this basis the committee recommended that the objectives of the bill be supported, but the timing of its passage be a matter for the broader parliament to determine, including executive government and the minister.

The committee recommended support for the introduction of additional coherence to the Commonwealth financial framework, including through improving the planning, performance and accountability processes. We also endorsed the introduction of: more mature approaches to risk management; the concept of earned autonomy; positive obligations to cooperate and partner with others; better recognition of the resource management cycle of planning through to evaluation; and the intent of improved performance reporting and transparency to the parliament and the public.

Responding to matters raised in submissions and by witnesses at the public hearing, the committee also made a number of recommendations around independence, transparency and ongoing evaluation of the reform. While committee members agree that there is merit in modernising the Commonwealth financial framework, in this case we did not reach full agreement on the issues of timing and the development of the rules. Ultimately, it is a choice for the minister, the government and this parliament as to when and under what basis to progress this legislation

But there are a number of factors that are critical to the long-term success of this important and wide-ranging reform. These are: as much as possible, bipartisanship on the principles and rules and, where possible, agreement on the process; as well, adherence to the commitment given by both the finance minister and the department regarding the development of the rules of details; and ongoing consultation with Commonwealth entities, the private and not-for-profit sector and the parliament.

On behalf of the committee, I sincerely thank the organisations and individuals who participated in this inquiry for their time and their valuable input. I would also like to make a particular note of our parliamentary Hansardcolleagues for the rapid turnaround of the committee's public hearing transcript. I make mention of the secretariat—David Brunoro, Vikki Darrough—and others for their swift work. This enabled us to progress the inquiry and report today before the resumption of the debate on the bill, scheduled for tomorrow. I commend the report to the House.