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Wednesday, 26 May 1993
Page: 1344

Senator WATSON (4.10 p.m.) I would like to add to the comments of my colleague Senator Short in congratulating the Auditor-General on the work that he has undertaken and on his findings. I think it is significant that these five agencies have installed over the past two years the same commercial financial management system, known as FINEST, which is a software package that originally found its evolutions within the Australian public sector. Subsequently, some of the original supporters of that concept further developed that package in the commercial environment. It has been so successful that it is now a central feature of a number of departments and agencies.

  It is important that we acknowledge the work that has been done by the firm Management Solutions in developing this software package. It is now widely used within the public sector. I endorse these comments of the Auditor-General in his key findings:

FINEST is generally being successfully utilised by the agencies to support the financial operations and financial management. . .

It is indeed a very successful system that provides useful management information in a timely fashion and appropriate accountability. I understand, from having inspected the operations of this firm, that it is continuously adding sophisticated layers to this software package. It speaks volumes for the public sector that it has used the services of these people, that it has sought to develop its expertise in this field and that it is big enough to use these systems very productively.

  As the Auditor-General said, the introduction of this software package has supported the agencies in catering for the devolution of financial management and administration over recent years. I think it is particularly important that most of the agencies have generally found that their financial systems have been strengthened as a result of the application of the software packages which have been developed here in Canberra.

  I noticed that there was a television report some time ago that showed that, despite the recession, this was one of the few firms in Canberra that was actually adding to its staff. It is a small, vigorous staff during a recessionary period. I think this spirit speaks volumes as to the creativity of the management, and I wish the firm well.

  Question resolved in the affirmative.