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Monday, 10 September 1984
Page: 883


Mr TICKNER —Has the Minister for Finance in his capacity as Minister assisting the Prime Minister for Public Service Matters seen reports of speculation about the position of the Auditor-General, Mr Brigden? Can he inform the House of current developments in relation to this matter?


Mr DAWKINS —I thank the honourable member for Hughes for his question. I and the Government are concerned about the impression which has apparently got about that the Government is trying to put pressure on the Auditor-General. That has been mentioned in a couple of articles. I want to make it perfectly clear that the Auditor-General reports to the Parliament. It is not for the Government to hold any views about his performance or the appropriate time of his retirement. In fact, the Government's task is to make arrangements for the appointment of a successor to Mr Brigden when that becomes necessary.

Mr Brigden's term does not expire until he reaches his retirement age on 25 June 1985. However, in December 1983 Mr Brigden advised the Chairman of the Public Service Board that it was his intention to retire in July 1984. On 24 January Mr Brigden formally advised Sir Geoffrey Yeend, the head of the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, of his intention to retire in 1984 , preferably on or shortly after the anniversary of his appointment in July 1984 .

The Prime Minister took action to seek a successor on 1 March, and on 2 April the Cabinet chose Mr Monaghan, then a commissioner of the Public Service Board, to succeed Mr Brigden on the occasion of his retirement. On 18 April Mr Brigden wrote to the Prime Minister deferring his retirement on a variety of grounds. Of course by that time the Government, acting on the earlier advice of Mr Brigden, had chosen a successor and needed to act to choose a successor to Mr Monaghan in relation to his position with the Public Service Board.

On 11 May the Prime Minister announced the Government's intention to recommend to the Governor-General the appointment of Mr Monaghan to succeed Mr Brigden and on 24 August Mr Monaghan's appointment was confirmed by the Executive Council and announced, with the time of his succession to the position of Auditor- General to be at the time of Mr Brigden's choosing in relation to his retirement . I have met with Mr Brigden, explained the circumstances and indicated that the Government has no view at all about the appropriateness of the timing of his retirement. That is, as it always has been, a matter entirely for Mr Brigden.