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Auditor of Parliamentary Allowances and Entitlements Bill 2000

Part 3 Main functions and powers of the Auditor

Division 1 Functions

16   Functions

                   The Auditor’s functions include the following:

                     (a)  to receive and investigate complaints about the possible misuse of parliamentary entitlements and allowances;

                     (b)  to inquire into and report on any matter referred to the Auditor in writing by the Minister;

                     (c)  to inquire into and report on any matter referred to the Auditor by resolution of either House of the Parliament;

                     (d)  to undertake sample audits of the use of parliamentary entitlements and allowances by individual members or groups of members of either House of the Parliament or by persons employed or engaged under the MOPS Act;

                     (e)  to undertake inquiries on his or her own initiative into any matter relevant to this Act;

                      (f)  to report to the Minister and to each House of the Parliament on any matter connected with this Act;

                     (g)  to make recommendations to the Minister or to either House of the Parliament for changes to the system of parliamentary allowances and entitlements;

                     (h)  to provide advice to individual members of either House of the Parliament, on request, or to persons employed or engaged under the MOPS Act, on ethical issues connected with the use of that person’s parliamentary allowances and entitlements.

Division 2 Powers

Subdivision A Members of Parliament and their staff

17   Powers of the Auditor in relation to members of the Parliament and their staff

             (1)  This section applies to a senator or a member of the House of Representatives or to a person employed by a senator or member under the MOPS Act.

             (2)  For the purposes of carrying out a function mentioned in paragraph 16(a), (b), (c), (d), or (e), the Auditor may request a person to whom this section applies to do all or any of the following:

                     (a)  to provide the Auditor with any information that the Auditor requests;

                     (b)  to produce to the Auditor any documents in the custody or under the control of the person requested by the Auditor;

                     (c)  to answer questions asked by the Auditor;

relating to a person’s receipt or use of parliamentary entitlements and allowances.

             (3)  The Auditor may request that the information to answers to questions be given either orally or in writing (as the Auditor prefers).

             (4)  The Auditor may, at all reasonable times and with the consent of the senator or member of the House of Representatives concerned:

                     (a)  enter and remain on any premises occupied in an official capacity by the senator or member; and

                     (b)  have full and free access at all reasonable times to any documents or other property; and

                     (c)  examine, make copies of or take extracts from any document;

for the purposes of inquiring into a person’s receipt or use of parliamentary entitlements or allowances.

             (5)  A request under subsection (2) or (4) must be in writing.

             (6)  A person who refuses to comply with a request by the Auditor under subsection (2) or (4) must be given the opportunity to provide the Auditor with written reasons for not complying with the request, or with any other information relevant to the request.

             (7)  After considering any response given in accordance with subsection (6), the Auditor may report to the relevant House in relation to all or any of the following:

                     (a)  the nature of the request made under subsection (2) or (4);

                     (b)  the reasons given for not complying with the request;

                     (c)  any other relevant information;

                     (d)  whether the Auditor recommends that the relevant House exercise its powers in relation to the senator or member of the House of Representatives concerned.

             (8)  In subsection (4), senator or member of the House of Representatives concerned , in relation to a member of staff employed under the MOPS Act, means the senator or member who is, or who was at the relevant time, that staff member’s employer.

Subdivision B Other persons

18   Application

                   This Subdivision applies to any person who is not covered by Subdivision A.

19   Purpose for which information gathering powers may be used

                   The powers under sections 20 and 21 may be used for the purpose of, or in connection with, a function mentioned in paragraph 16(a), (b), (c), (d) or (e).

20   Power of Auditor to obtain information

             (1)  The Auditor may, by written notice, direct a person to do all or any of the following:

                     (a)  to provide the Auditor with any information that the Auditor requires;

                     (b)  to attend and give evidence before the Auditor or an authorised person;

                     (c)  to produce to the Auditor any documents in the custody or under the control of the person;

in relation to the receipt and use of parliamentary entitlements and allowances.

Note:          A proceeding under paragraph (1)(b) is a judicial proceeding for the purposes of Part III of the Crimes Act 1914 . The Crimes Act 1914 prohibits certain conduct in relation to judicial proceedings.

             (2)  The Auditor may direct that:

                     (a)  the information or answers to questions be given either orally or in writing (as the Auditor requires);

                     (b)  the information or answers to questions be verified or given on oath or affirmation.

The oath or affirmation is an oath or affirmation that the information or evidence the person will give will be true, and may be administered by the Auditor or by an authorised person.

             (3)  A person must not refuse, without reasonable excuse, to comply with a direction under subsection (1) or (2):

                     (a)  to provide information to the Auditor; or

                     (b)  to attend before the Auditor; or

                     (c)  to be sworn or make an affirmation; or

                     (d)  to produce a document; or

                     (e)  to answer a question.

Maximum penalty:    10 penalty units.

Note 1:       Chapter 2 of the Criminal Code sets out the general principles of criminal responsibility.

Note 2:       Section 4AA of the Crimes Act 1914 sets the current value of a penalty unit.

             (4)  A person to whom this Subdivision applies must not:

                     (a)  wilfully obstruct, hinder or resist the Auditor or any other person in the exercise of his or her functions under this Act without reasonable excuse; or

                     (b)  provide information or make a statement to the Auditor or to an authorised person knowing that it is false or misleading in a material particular.

Maximum penalty:    10 penalty units.

Note 1:       Chapter 2 of the Criminal Code sets out the general principles of criminal responsibility.

Note 2:       Section 4AA of the Crimes Act 1914 sets the current value of a penalty unit.

21   Access to premises etc.

             (1)  The Auditor or an authorised person:

                     (a)  may, at all reasonable times, enter and remain on any premises; and

                     (b)  is entitled to full and free access at all reasonable times to any documents or other property; and

                     (c)  may examine, make copies of or take extracts from any document;

for the purposes of inquiring into a person’s receipt or use of parliamentary entitlements or allowances.

             (2)  An authorised person is not entitled to enter or remain on premises if he or she fails to produce a written authority on being asked by the occupier to produce proof of his or her authority. For this purpose, written authority means an authority signed by the Auditor that states that the official is authorised to exercise powers under this Subdivision.

             (3)  If an authorised person enters, or proposes to enter, premises under this section, the occupier must provide the person with all reasonable facilities for the effective exercise of powers under this section.

Maximum penalty:    10 penalty units.

Note 1:       Chapter 2 of the Criminal Code sets out the general principles of criminal responsibility.

Note 2:       Section 4AA of the Crimes Act 1914 sets the current value of a penalty unit.

             (4)  In this section:

                   premises includes any land or place.

22   False statements etc.

             (1)  A person must not make a statement to the Auditor or to an audit official that the person knows is false or misleading in a material particular.

Maximum penalty:    20 penalty units.

Note 1:       Chapter 2 of the Criminal Code sets out the general principles of criminal responsibility.

Note 2:       Section 4AA of the Crimes Act 1914 sets the current value of a penalty unit.

             (2)  If a person gives an audit official a document that the person knows is false or misleading in a material particular, the person must identify the particular.

Maximum penalty:    20 penalty units.

Note 1:       Chapter 2 of the Criminal Code sets out the general principles of criminal responsibility.

Note 2:       Section 4AA of the Crimes Act 1914 sets the current value of a penalty unit.

             (3)  In this section:

                   audit official means a person performing, or assisting in the performance of, a function of the Auditor to which this Subdivision applies.

23   Self-incrimination no excuse

                   A person is not excused from producing a document or answering a question under section 20 on the ground that the answer, or the production of the document, might tend to incriminate the person or make the person liable to a penalty. However, neither:

                     (a)  the answer to the question or the production of the document; nor

                     (b)  anything obtained as a direct or indirect result of the answer or the production of the document;

is admissible in evidence against the person in any criminal proceedings (other than proceedings for an offence against, or arising out of, section 20 or 22).

Subdivision C Other powers

24   Auditing standards

                   The Auditor may, by notice published in the Gazette , set auditing standards that are to be complied with by persons performing any function under Part 4.

25   Reports to Parliament

             (1)  The Auditor may, at any time, cause a report to be tabled in either House of the Parliament on any matter connected with the receipt and use of parliamentary entitlements and allowances.

             (2)  The power mentioned in subsection (1) is in addition to any other reporting power in this Act.

26   Reports to Minister

                   The Auditor must bring to the attention of the Minister any important matter that comes to the attention of the Auditor while:

                     (a)  conducting an audit under Division 3 of Part 4; or

                     (b)  giving advice under Division 4 of Part 4 (but not so as to disclose the identity of the person seeking advice).

27   Annual report

             (1)  As soon as practicable after 30 June in each year, the Auditor must:

                     (a)  prepare a report on the operations of the Auditor during that year; and

                     (b)  cause a copy of the report to be tabled in each House of the Parliament.

             (2)  A report prepared under subsection (1) must include:

                     (a)  a general summary of advice given that year by the Auditor under Division 4 of Part 4; and

                     (b)  a list of all reports presented by the Auditor to either House of the Parliament in that year.