Parliamentary committee scrutiny of the Commonwealth Ombudsman—Private Member’s Bill

Parliament house flag post

Parliamentary committee scrutiny of the Commonwealth Ombudsman—Private Member’s Bill

Posted 10/11/2011 by Nicholas Horne

A Private Member’s Bill introduced on 1 November 2011 in the Senate by Australian Greens Senator Bob Brown seeks to bring the operation, functions and resourcing of the Commonwealth Ombudsman under the scrutiny of the Joint Committee of Public Accounts and Audit. The Commonwealth Ombudsman is an independent statutory office established by the Ombudsman Act 1976 (Cth).

The Public Accounts and Audit Committee Amendment (Ombudsman) Bill 2011 follows the resignation of the former Ombudsman, Allan Asher, in late October 2011 over his provision of suggested questions to Australian Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young prior to the May 2011 Senate Budget Estimates hearings. In a statement to the Senate Finance and Public Administration Legislation Committee at the October 2011 Supplementary Budget Estimates hearings, Asher indicated that his motivation for providing the questions to Senator Hanson-Young had been to raise concerns over resourcing of the Ombudsman’s office. On 2 November 2011 the Special Minister of State, the Hon Gary Gray, made a ministerial statement in relation to Asher’s resignation.

In his Second Reading speech on the Bill, Senator Brown stated that the events leading to Asher’s resignation ‘highlighted the necessity to provide the Commonwealth Ombudsman with the same access as the Auditor-General to committee oversight to ensure that future holders of that office can overcome the roadblock on reporting back to parliament on performance’.

The Joint Committee of Public Accounts and Audit (JCPAA) is established by the Public Accounts and Audit Committee Act 1951 (Cth) (‘the Act’) for each Parliament and has a range of duties including examining the accounts of the receipts and expenditure of the Commonwealth, the financial affairs of Commonwealth authorities, and all reports of the Auditor-General  tabled in the Parliament. The JCPAA also considers the operations and resources of the Australian National Audit Office (ANAO) including funding, staff and information technology, and can report to the Parliament on the performance of the ANAO at any time. The JCPAA can also report to the Parliament on any matter relating to the Auditor-General’s functions and powers that the Committee considers should be brought to the attention of the Parliament.
Senator Brown’s Bill proposes to replicate a number of the JCPAA’s existing statutory duties regarding the Auditor-General and the ANAO with application to the Commonwealth Ombudsman. Under the proposed amendments the JCPAA would:
  • examine all reports of the Ombudsman tabled in Parliament and report to the Parliament on any items or matters in those reports, or circumstances connected with them, that the JCPAA thinks should be drawn to the attention of the Parliament
  • consider the operations and resources of the Ombudsman including funding, staff and information technology, and report to the Parliament on any matter arising from this (or any other matter relating to the Ombudsman’s functions and powers) that the JCPAA thinks should be drawn to the attention of the Parliament
  • report to the Parliament on performance of the Ombudsman at any time, and
  • any other duties given to the JCPAA by the Act, by any other law, or by Joint Standing Orders approved by the Parliament.
The Bill also specifies that nothing in the proposed amendments would authorise the JCPAA to direct the activities of the Ombudsman.
The Bill is currently before the Senate.

Thank you for your comment. If it does not require moderation, it will appear shortly.
Facebook LinkedIn Twitter Add | Email Print


Flagpost is a blog on current issues of interest to members of the Australian Parliament

Parliamentary Library Logo showing Information Analysis & Advice




refugees asylum immigration Australian foreign policy Parliament elections climate change social security women welfare reform taxation Indigenous Australians Australian Defence Force welfare policy school education higher education private health insurance health financing emissions trading Middle East Senate Australian Bureau of Statistics employment people trafficking Asia statistics illicit drugs gambling health reform federal election 2010 Australian Public Service income management Medicare disability Sport United Nations environment industrial relations constitution transport politics criminal law Afghanistan health forced labour food public service reform aged care aid Australian Sports Anti-Doping Agency World Anti-Doping Agency United States federal budget Carbon Pricing Mechanism dental health international relations governance regulation Fair Work Act voting law enforcement electoral reform OECD Australian Electoral Commission WADA child protection poker machines Australia in the Asian Century steroids National Disability Insurance Scheme detention 43rd Parliament slavery health system leadership domestic violence parliamentary procedure International Women's Day accountability defence capability multiculturalism ASADA Australian Federal Police labour force people smuggling debt New Zealand Australian Crime Commission pharmaceutical benefits scheme political parties coal seam gas Human rights crime China Census election results UK Parliament Papua New Guinea banking corruption pensions children's health Aviation federal election 2013 foreign debt gross debt net debt Senators and Members ALP Newstart Parenting Payment Youth Allowance sea farers United Kingdom energy food labelling Australian economy violence against women vocational education and training military history by-election High Court skilled migration mental health Federal Court terrorist groups science social media Higher Education Loan Program HECS federal state relations youth paid parental leave same sex relationships customs planning doping health risks Gonski Review of Funding for Schooling sex slavery Special Rapporteur Northern Territory Emergency Response social policy ANZUS Rural and regional trade unions Foreign affairs election timetable Indigenous royal commission Productivity firearms public policy Population ADRV terrorism transparency research and development welfare ASIO intelligence community Australian Security Intelligence Organisation carbon tax mining employer employee renewable energy regional unemployment fishing European Union family assistance United Nations Security Council forestry Drugs welfare systems Indonesia children Constitutional reform local government codes of conduct terrorist financing homelessness Parliamentary remuneration money laundering Trafficking in Persons Report social inclusion paternalism environmental law US presidential election nutrition ODA Defence sitting days electoral divisions Southeast Asia administrative law universities TAFE Ireland citizenship asylum seekers early childhood education Canada Financial sector national security fuel disability employment Tasmania integrity standards NATO Australian Secret Intelligence Service sexual abuse World Trade Organization Australia public health housing affordability bulk billing water health policy Governor-General US economy export liquefied natural gas foreign bribery question time speaker superannuation public housing expertise climate Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Department of Agriculture Fisheries and Forestry Pacific Islands reserved seats new psychoactive substances synthetic drugs UNODC carbon markets animal health middle class welfare constitutional recognition of local government referendum consumer laws PISA competition policy US politics language education baby bonus Leaders of the Opposition citizen engagement policymaking Australia Greens servitude Trafficking Protocol forced marriage alcohol entitlements ministries Hung Parliament social citizenship maritime Iran regional students school chaplains federal budget 2011-12 salary Medicare Locals primary care Building the Education Revolution Turkey Syria marine pollution sustainability prisons police deaths in custody electoral margins electoral pendulum electoral redistribution redistribution NSW redistribution WA redistribution ACT electoral boundaries ASEAN Sustainable Development Goals Double dissolution Senators safety vehicles MYEFO Pathology tertiary education Taiwan Xi Ma meeting family violence government financial advisers financial planners Financial System Inquiry Murray Inquiry China; Economic policy; Southeast Asia; Africa housing Speaker; House of Representatives; Parliament High Court; Indigenous; Indigenous Australians; Native Title ACT Indigenous education Norfolk Island External Territories emissions reduction fund; climate change child care funding refugees immigration asylum procurement Indigenous health e-voting internet voting nsw state elections 44th Parliament 2015 ABS Age Pension Death penalty capital punishment execution Bali nine Bali bombings Trade EU China soft power education Fiji India Disability Support Pension Antarctica Diplomacy by-elections state and territories Bills anti-corruption fraud bribery corporate ownership whistleblower G20 economic reform innovation Members of Parliament Scottish referendum Middle East; national security; terrorism social services Criminal Code Amendment (Misrepresentation of Age to a Minor) Bill 2013 online grooming sexual assault of minors ACT Assembly smoking plain packaging tobacco cigarettes Asia; Japan; international relations Work Health and Safety Migration; asylum seekers; regional processing China; United States; international relations fiscal policy Racial Discrimination Act; social policy; human rights; indigenous Australians Foreign policy Israel Palestine asylum refugees immigration political finance donations foreign aid Economics efficiency human rights; Racial Discrimination Act employment law bullying Animal law; food copyright Australian Law Reform Commission industry peace keeping contracts workplace policies same-sex marriage disorderly conduct retirement Parliament House standing orders prime ministers First speech defence budget submarines workers Somalia GDP world heritage political engagement leave loading Trade; tariffs; safeguards; Anti-dumping public interest disclosure whistleblowing Productivity Commission limitation period cancer gene patents genetic testing suspension of standing and sessional orders live exports infant mortality honorary citizen railways disciplinary tribunals standard of proof World Health Organisation arts international students skilled graduate visas temporary employment visas apologies roads Italy national heritage NHMRC anti-dumping Rent Assistance obesity evidence law sacrament of confession international days DFAT UN General Assembly deregulation Regulation Impact Statements small business Breaker Morant regional engagement social determinants of health abortion Members suspension workplace health and safety marine reserves hearing Victoria astronomy resources sector YMCA youth parliament Korea rebate Australian Greens presidential nomination Racial Discrimination Act political parties preselection solar hot water Financial Action Taskforce Horn of Africa peacekeeping piracy Great Barrier Reef Stronger futures political financing political education Social Inclusion Board early childhood National Quality Framework for Early Childhood Education and Care Murray-Darling Basin sanctions Norway hospitals republic President Barack Obama Presidential visits qantas counselling Korean peninsula Work Choices biosecurity hendra federalism federation preselection therapeutic goods Therapeutic Goods Administration plebiscites computer games pests suicide nuclear COAG Ministerial Councils floods ADHD stimulant medication advertising electricity extradition conscience votes poverty preventative health rural health coastal erosion Parliamentary Budget Office work-life balance

Show all
Show less
Back to top