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Financial Accountability (Commonwealth support of non-public sector bodies) Bill 1998

 

   

1   Short title

                   This Act may be cited as the Financial Accountability (Commonwealth support of non-public sector bodies) Act 1998 .

2   Commencement

                   This Act commences on the day on which it receives the Royal Assent.

3   Object s of Act

                   Recognising:

                     (a)  Commonwealth support of any non-public sector body may involve financial risk-taking on the Commonwealth’s part; and

                     (b)  any non-public sector body which receives Commonwealth support and which fails may result in part or all of that support accruing as a public sector loss; and

                     (c)  that the Commonwealth, being responsible for Commonwealth funds at risk, should seek a return on its support of any non-public sector body;

 

                   accordingly, the objects of this Act are to ensure that:

 

                     (d)  any public financial costs and risks incurred by such Commonwealth support are placed before the Parliament to allow scrutiny; and

                     (e)  such support is limited to cases where the support is:

                              (i)  open to Parliamentary scrutiny as to its costs and risks;

                             (ii)  able to be met from existing financial resources; and

                            (iii)  capable of yielding measurable advantages to the Commonwealth.

4   Definitions

                   In this Act:

Committee means the Joint Committee of Public Accounts and Audit provided for in the Public Accounts and Audit Committee Act 1951 .

Commonwealth support includes any equity, loan, guarantee, contract, grant, subsidy, concession or any use of Commonwealth property, services or infrastructure given to a non-public sector enterprise where the total value of the support, irrespective of instalment arrangements or timeframes for completion of specified actions, is the equivalent of a single transaction equal to or exceeding $50 000.

memorandum of non-compliance means a memorandum issued by the Minister under section 6 7 .

non-public sector body means any body corporate or individual other than:

                     (a)  an Agency or prescribed Agency as defined by the Financial Management and Accountability Act 1997 ;

                     (b)  a Commonwealth authority or  a Commonwealth company or a government business enterprise as defined by the Commonwealth Authorities and Companies Act 1997.

Minister includes the President of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives.

responsible Minister means:

                     (a)  in relation to an Agency or prescribed Agency —the Minister who is responsible for the Agency or prescribed agency ;

                     (b)  in relation to a Commonwealth authority or any of its subsidiaries—the Minister who is responsible for the authority;

                     (c)  in relation to a Commonwealth company or any of its subsidiaries:

                              (i)  the Minister who is prescribed by regulations under the Commonwealth Authorities and Companies Act 1997 as the Minister responsible for the Commonwealth company; or

                             (ii)  if no Minister is prescribed—the Minister who is responsible for the Commonwealth company.

5   Tabling of Duty on responsible Minister to table instruments and statement by Minister

             (1)  As soon as practicable but no later than 7 sitting days after Commonwealth support of a non-public sector body is approved or agreed to by a Minister, an Agency, a prescribed Agency, a Commonwealth authority or a Comonwealth company, the Minister or , the responsible Minister must cause to be tabled in each House of the Parliament a copy of:

                     (a)  all instruments of approval or agreement to such support; and

                     (b)  a statement prepared by the Minister or the responsible Minister identifying:

                              (i)  the objectives of the support;

                             (ii)  the form of the support (for example, a loan and/or a subsidy);

                            (iii)  whether the support involves the use of public money or not;

                            (iv)  whether the support is capable of yielding measurable advantages to the Commonwealth; and

                             (v)  with reference to particular time-frames, the financial costs, benefits and the risks of the support.

             (2)  The Minister or the responsible Minister shall cause a copy of any instruments and any statement tabled in accordance with this section to be transmitted to the Joint Committee of Public Accounts and Audit on the day on which such instruments and statement are tabled in the Senate or the House of Representatives, whichever first occurs.

6  Joint Committee of Public Accounts and Audit may assess return

                   The Joint Committee of Public Accounts and Audit may examine the instruments and statement transmitted to it by the Minister under section 5 and inquire into and report on whether such support is likely to produce a measurable return.

6 7   Exception where commercial damage likely

             (1)  Where, in relation to Commonwealth support, commercial damage is likely to occur to a non-public sector body if the Minister or responsible Minister complies with section 5, he or she m ust ay prepare a memorandum stating the reasons why the instruments and statement should not be tabled in each House of the Parliament.

             (2)  Where the Minister prepares has prepared a memorandum in accordance with subsection (1), he or she must:

                     (a)  within 7 days of Commonwealth such support being approved or agreed to, transmit a copy of the memorandum and the relevant instruments and statement to the Joint Committee of Public Accounts and Audit; and

                     (b)  within 7 sitting days of Commonwealth such support being approved or agreed to, table in each House of the Parliament a copy of the memorandum.

7   Joint Committee of Public Accounts and Audit

             (1)  The Joint Committee of Public Accounts and Audit may:

                     (a)  examine the instruments and statements transmitted to it under section 5 or the memorandum, instruments and statement transmitted to it under section 6 and inquire into and report on whether such support is likely to produce support a measurable return.

                     (b)  inquire into and report from time to time in relation to Commonwealth support of any  non-public sector body including an inquiry into:

                              (i)  the form or forms of any support; and

                             (ii)  the methods by which the performance of any Commonwealth support may be assessed including an analysis of any Commonwealth or State tax effects of such support.

                     (c)  seek the opinion of the Auditor-General on any matter arising under this section.

             (2)  Where the Committee decides to make a report under paragraph (1)(a), the report must be tabled within 12 sitting days of the Committee’s receipt of the documents.

8   Committee’s report to Parliament

             (1)  The Joint Committee of Public Accounts and Audit may inquire into and report to each House of the Parliament from time to time in relation to Commonwealth support of any non-public sector body including an inquiry into:

                     (a)  the form or forms of any support; and

                     (b)  the methods by which the performance of any Commonwealth support may be assessed including an analysis of any Commonwealth or State tax effects of such support.

             (2)  The Committee’s report must be tabled within 12 sitting days of receiving the documents which the responsible Minister is required to transmit to the Committee in accordance with section 5 or section 7.

             (3)  The Committee may seek the opinion of the Auditor General on any matter arising under this section.