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Wednesday, 11 May 1994
Page: 631

Senator CAMPBELL —I direct my question to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. I remind Senator Evans that on 3 March this year he announced the so-called accountability package, which I think was designed to sideline a Senate select committee hearing into the sports rorts affair. At that time he made an undertaking on behalf of the government to review the forward estimates of the Audit Office in this year's budget `following the outcome of the inquiry into the conduct of officers and departments concerned with Centenary House'. Also at that time he emphatically stated that these specific commitments would put `beyond any doubt the government's willingness to act to improve the quality of administration and accountability in this country'. Now that the budget has been brought down, how can he and the government he represents justify slashing $10 million from the budget of the National Audit Office, that being an 18.84 per cent reduction?

Senator GARETH EVANS —I will have to take the funding part of the question on notice. But the implementation of that accountability package and the whole range of questions that were on the table and which I made the subject of my statement on 3 March about the role of the audit office are coming to cabinet and will be dealt with, as I recall, at the cabinet meeting later this week. There is every intention on the part of the government to systematically address that. I cannot take on face value—and I am certainly not prepared to take anything Senator Campbell says on face value—what has been said about the funding allocation for the Audit Office in the budget as it stands, but there is absolutely no intention on the part of the government to reduce in any way the audit office's capability. Far from that, we are trying to enhance it in the ways that we promised we would do.