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Public Sector (Functions and Resources Audit) Amendment Bill

Introduction and First Reading

The Hon. J.A. DARLEY (16:30): Obtained leave and introduced a bill for an act to amend the Public Sector Act 2009. Read a first time.

Second Reading

The Hon. J.A. DARLEY (16:31): I move: That this bill be now read a second time.

I move this bill standing in my name. The bill will replace the Statutes Amendment (Public Sector Audit) Bill, which I introduced in this place in September 2015. The original bill had two main parts. The first was in relation to the Auditor-General and removed restrictions on what the Auditor-General is able to investigate. The second introduced a requirement for the chief executive of each government department to undertake an operational audit. Having consulted with the Auditor-General, he advised that he did not think that the amendments to the Public Finance and Audit Act were necessary. As such, I remove these provisions from the bill.

In consultation with others in this chamber, it was clear that there was a preference for any operational audit to be the responsibility of the relevant minister, rather than the chief executive. I have no objection to this and am happy to make this change if it is more likely to gain the support of others in this place. As such, this bill's sole purpose is to introduce a requirement for ministers to undertake an operational audit in the departments they are responsible for. As stated in my original second reading, an operational audit will require a review into the functions of the department and the resources needed to undertake these functions.

By undertaking such an audit, budgetary savings or departmental deficiencies will be identified. Acting on these findings will streamline the Public Service and by consequence will reduce red tape. This is not about cutting the Public Service—I repeat: this is not about cutting the Public Service—it is merely asking the minister to examine each activity within the department or agency, identify whether the activity is still required, determine whether the activity is performed in the most efficient manner and identify whether the activity is performed in the most effective location. In doing this, unnecessary red tape would also be identified.

I expect there may be departments that could justify they are under-resourced and need better staffing to service the public more efficiently. It will then be up to the minister as to how they respond to the audit. In introducing this bill, I indicate that I will be withdrawing my previous bill and I commend this current bill to the chamber.

Debate adjourned on motion of Hon. D.G.E. Hood.