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Public Sector (Functions and Resources Audit) Amendment Bill

First Reading

The Hon. J.A. DARLEY (17:29): 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 (17:30): I move:

That this bill be now read a second time.

This bill is very similar to the bill that I introduced into this place about a year ago and introduces a requirement for ministers to undertake an operational audit of the departments and agencies they are responsible for. An operational audit will require a review into all activities of the department and the resources needed to undertake these functions. That is to say that the minister will need to identify each and every activity performed within the agency and ask three questions: (1) is the activity still required and relevant today; (2) is the activity performed in the most efficient manner; and (3) is the activity being performed in the most effective location?

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, reduce red tape. The bill requires an operational audit to be conducted every four years. There are rumours circulating about suspected efficiency dividends that the new government will be announcing as part of their first budget.

As a general rule, blanket efficiency and savings dividends are ineffective because they often result in top-heavy departments with fewer resources where they are most needed; that is, many departments have too many executive and management-level staff and frontline resources are often lacking. It is much more effective to conduct an operational audit to ensure that the services that are meant to be delivered can be delivered in the most efficient and effective way. I commend the bill to members.

Debate adjourned on motion of Hon. T.J. Stephens.