House of Representatives Committees


| Joint Committee of Public Accounts and Audit

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Preliminary Pages

Foreword

On 16 May 2013, the House of Representatives Selection Committee referred the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Bill 2013 to the Joint Committee of Public Accounts and Audit (JCPAA). The Selection Committee outlined the reasons for referral as ‘to ensure that combining the two Acts into a single Act does not impose additional and unnecessary reporting requirements on bodies subject to the Act and does not reduce transparency or remove important oversight where it is appropriate’.

The JCPAA believes all these issues are satisfied. What the Committee thinks are issues for consideration are timing; the development of detailed rules; and ongoing consultation to assist agencies and other affected bodies through this change process.

The Commonwealth Financial Accountability Review is an important reform for Australia’s public sector, and looks to be broadly supported by key stakeholders and political parties. However, what is acknowledged is a level of nervousness in the transition from the general concept of reform to this principles-based legislative framework, and then to the next stage of detailed rules.

These stages of transition need to be handled carefully, with ongoing time for listening to and talking with all 196 affected Commonwealth entities a priority, along with ensuring that the Parliament is fully informed.

It is a choice for a minister, a government and a parliament whether to progress the legislation now. If so, commitments given by both the Finance Minister and the Finance department regarding the development of the rules in detail, along with ongoing consultation, will be critical to the success or failure of this important reform.

 

Rob Oakeshott MP

Chair

 

Membership of the Committee

 

Chair

Mr Robert Oakeshott MP

 

Deputy Chair

Ms Gai Brodtmann MP

 

Members

Hon Dick Adams MP

Senator Mark Bishop

 

Mr Jamie Briggs MP

Senator Dean Smith

 

Mr Darren Cheeseman MP

Senator Anne Ruston

 

Mr Harry Jenkins MP

Senator Louise Pratt

 

Ms Laura Smyth MP

Senator the Hon Kim Carr

(from 14 May 2013)

 

Hon Alex Somlyay MP

 

 

Mr Josh Frydenberg MP

 

 

Ms Deborah O’Neill MP

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Membership of the Sectional Committee

Chair

Mr Robert Oakeshott MP

 

Deputy Chair

Ms Gai Brodtmann MP

 

Members

Senator Mark Bishop

 

 

Senator Dean Smith

 

 

Senator Anne Rushton

 

 

Committee Secretariat

 

Secretary

Mr David Brunoro

Inquiry Secretaries

Ms Vikki Darrough

 

Mr James Nelson

Research Officer

Ms Elina Gilbourd

Administrative Officers

Ms Jazmine Rakic

 

Ms Karen Underwood

 

Terms of reference

 

On 16 May 2013 the House of Representatives Selection Committee referred the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Bill 2013 for inquiry and report.

 

List of abbreviations

 

ABC

Australian Broadcasting Corporation

ANAO

Australian National Audit Office

ASIC

Australian Securities and Investments Commission

ATO

Australian Taxation Office

CAC Act

Commonwealth Authorities and Companies Act 1997

CFAR

Commonwealth Financial Accountability Review

Finance

Department of Finance and Deregulation

FMA Act

Financial Management and Accountability Act 1997

IBA

Indigenous Business Australia

JCPA

Joint Committee of Public Accounts

JCPAA

Joint Committee of Public Accounts and Audit

PGPA Bill

Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Bill 2013

PS Act

Public Service Act 1999

SBS

Special Broadcasting Service

 


List of recommendations

Recommendation 1

That the objectives of the Bill be supported, but the timing of its passage be a matter for the broader Parliament to determine.

Recommendation 2

That the issues highlighted in the referral from the Selection Committee have been examined and do not, at this stage, look to be reasons for rejection of the Bill.

Recommendation 3

That the Committee supports the introduction of additional coherence to the system — including through improving the planning, performance and accountability processes —and specifically supports the introduction of:

  • more mature approaches to risk management;

  • the concept of earned autonomy;

  • positive obligations to cooperate and partner with others;

  • better recognition of the resource management cycle of planning through to evaluation; and

  • the intent of improved performance reporting and transparency to the Parliament and the public.

    Recommendation 4

    That, if the Bill is passed during this Parliament, that the process outlined by the Finance Minister regarding public and parliamentary consultation be closely followed.

    Recommendation 5

    That, if a decision is made to delay passage of the Bill, priority should be given to its consideration within the first six months of the next parliament; and that the opportunity should be taken to consult stakeholders and progress work on the rules with a view to providing:

  • insight into what they look like and contain; and

  • some confidence to agencies and the Parliament as to their impact.

    Recommendation 6

    That consequential amendments will be required to the enabling legislation of entities to ensure their independence is not compromised.

    Recommendation 7

    That the options developed by the Australian Government Solicitor for amendment to the Explanatory Memorandum to clarify maintenance of independence, as outlined in Supplementary Submission 9.2 from the Department of Finance and Deregulation to the Joint Committee of Public Accounts and Audit, be accepted and included in a revised Explanatory Memorandum.

    Recommendation 8

    That:

  • evaluation requirements for the overall financial framework be  explicitly included in the Bill and Explanatory Memorandum; and

  • the Parliament, through the Joint Committee of Public Accounts and Audit, conduct a detailed inquiry into the financial framework following the completion of the evaluation.

    Recommendation 9

    That a statement on greater transparency is included in the Explanatory Memorandum, as per the Australian Information Commissioner’s evidence to the Joint Committee of Public Accounts and Audit's inquiry into the Bill.

    Recommendation 10

    That all relevant documents are prepared in plain English and in language consistent with other relevant legislation, where practicable.

    Recommendation 11

    That other suggested amendments highlighted during the inquiry be further considered and changes made as appropriate.

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