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Wednesday, 10 May 2000
Page: 16202


Mr CHARLES (4:49 PM) —by leave—I present the following executive minutes on reports of the Joint Committee of Public Accounts and Audit: Executive Minute on Report 366—Review of Auditor-General's reports 1997-98, Second quarter; Executive Minute on Report 367—Review of Auditor-General's reports 1997-98, Third quarter; Executive Minute on Report 368—Review of Audit Report No. 34 1997-98, New Submarine Project, Department of Defence; Executive Minute on Report 369—Australian Government procurement and Executive Minute on Report 371—Review of Auditor-General's reports 1998-99, First half , and I ask leave of the House to make a statement in connection with the minutes.

Leave granted.


Mr CHARLES —On behalf of the Joint Committee of Public Accounts and Audit, I table executive minutes for Reports 366, 367, 368, 369 and 371, received in response to reports of the committee tabled since 30 March 1999. I will refer separately to each of the executive minutes in my remarks. I will firstly address Report 366: Review Of Auditor-General's Reports 1997-98, Second Quarter. As part of this review, the committee examined two performance audits of the Auditor-General which focused on equity in employment in the Australian Public Service and matters relating to a contract between the Department of Employment, Education, Training and Youth Affairs and South Pacific Cruise Lines Ltd. The JCPAA made four recommendations, which were agreed to by the government.

Report 367: Review Of Auditor-General's Reports 1997-98, Third Quarter examined three performance audits of the Auditor-General which focused on DEETYA International Services, the sale of Brisbane, Melbourne and Perth airports and selected functions of the Child Support Agency. The committee made four recommendations, which the government has supported.

Regarding Report 368: Review Of Audit Report No. 34 1997-98, New Submarine Project, Department Of Defence, the committee gave top priority to its review of the new submarine project. The review examined findings raised by the Auditor-General in Audit Report No. 34. Of the committee's seven recommendations, six dealt with administrative matters and one with policy issues. The government has supported the six recommendations relating to administrative matters.

The committee's policy recommendation No. 5 is currently under consideration by the Minister for Finance and Administration. As part of this recommendation, the committee requested that legislative provision be provided for, either through amendment of the Auditor-General Act or the Finance Minister's Orders, to enable the Auditor-General to access the premises of a contractor for the purpose of inspecting and copying documentation and records directly relating to a Commonwealth contract. The committee considers that access powers proposed in this recommendation are an essential part of enhancing parliamentary scrutiny of executive government, and accordingly will monitor progress with this recommendation.

On Audit Report No. 369—Australian government procurement, the committee made 12 recommendations, of which 11 were responded to as part of a government response in November 1999. The executive minute responded to recommendation No. 9, which was supported by the government.

Audit Report No. 371—review of Auditor-General's reports 1998-99, First Half examined three performance audits of the Auditor-General which focused on aviation security in Australia, the planning of aged care and the costing of services. The government supported, supported with qualification and noted the three recommendations made by the committee.

In conclusion, I am pleased with the high rate of support for the committee's recommendations, as indicated in these executive minutes. However, in addition to noting executive minutes in this way, the committee will at various times seek to monitor the extent to which recommendations have been implemented.