Full descriptionThe Public Finance and Audit Act 1983 (Act No.152, 1983) commencing on 6 January 1984 (1) modernised public sector financial administration and audit. Within public agencies there was to be a more effective system of internal control and audit. (2) The transfer of functions between departments and the consequent transfer of appropriation was codified. (3) The Auditor General was to audit the Public Accounts with regard to the "character and effectiveness of the relevant internal control and recognised professional standards and practices". (4)
In 1991-92 amendments to the Public Finance and Audit Act brought major changes to the role of Auditor General . The Auditor General was to be appointed for a non renewable term of seven years. (5) The incumbent of the office was not eligible for appointment to any other New South Wales Government position except with the consent of the Governor. (6) The Public Accounts Committee was empowered to veto the proposed appointment of an Auditor General. (7) Performance audits were introduced in which the Auditor General received a specific mandate to carry out audits which incorporate value for money separate from the usual auditing of public accounts. These special audits were based on the criteria of economy, effectiveness, efficiency, and legal compliance. (8) The Auditor General's Office was constituted as a body corporate for the purposes of employing staff, and was removed from the operations of the Public Sector Management Act 1988 (Act No.33, 1988). (9) Subsidiaries or joint ventures established by New South Wales Public sector organisations were subject to audit (10) and statutory bodies were required to submit financial statements, without the need for certification, within six weeks of year end, and financial statements to be signed by the Auditor General and the body within a further ten weeks allowing 'concurrent signing'. (11)
The Auditor General and his staff were protected from personal liability for actions done in the execution of the Public Finance and Audit Act 1983 (Act No.152, 1983). (12) An external review of the Auditor General's Office was authorised to be carried out as least every three years. The reviewer was to be appointed by the Public Accounts Committee. (13)
The Ombudsman (Amendment) Act 1993 (Act No.37, 1993) also amended the Public Finance and Audit Act 1983 (Act No.152, 1983) so that the Auditor General no longer had the right to access Cabinet documents relevant to an audit. (14) In 1993 the Auditor General was made the legislated auditor of all District Health Services in New South Wales and the default auditor for Local Government Councils. (15)
The HomeFund Select Committee (Special Provisions) Act 1993 (Act No.27, 1993) extended the functions of the Auditor General to investigate and report on certain matters within the Select Committee's terms of reference concerning HomeFund and First Australian National Mortgage Acceptance Corporation Limited. Consistent with the precedent established by this legislation the Parliament provided for the Auditor General to undertake a performance audit into certain matters concerning the funding of disciplinary procedures for solicitors and barristers. (16)
On 19 October 1994 Schedule 2 of the Public Finance and Audit Act 1983 (Act No.152, 1983) was amended to change the name of the Auditor General's Office to "The Audit Office of New South Wales". (17)
On 1 March 1995 the Protected Disclosures Act 1994 (Act No.92, 1994) amended the Public Finance and Audit Act 1983 (Act No.152, 1983) by allowing a public official to complain to the Auditor General (whether orally or in writing) that public money has been seriously and substantially wasted by an authority or an officer of an authority not being a local government body. When a public official makes such a complaint the Auditor General may conduct an audit. (18)
The Statutory office of the New South Wales Auditor General was established by the Public Finance and Audit Act (Act No.152, 1983). The Audit Office supports the Auditor General in meeting the statutory requirements under this Act. It is part of the accountability mechanism whereby the Parliament holds the Government accountable for fulfilling its responsibilities. The Audit Office assists the Auditor General to provide advice to Parliament, Government, and government agencies, which are audited.
(1) New South Wales Government Gazette, 6 January 1984, p.19.
(2) Public Finance and Audit Act 1983 (Act No.152, 1983) Section 11.
(3) Ibid. Section 24.
(4) Ibid. Section 34.
(5) Public Finance and Audit (Auditor General) Amendment Act 1991 (Act No.88, 1991) Schedule 2.1.
(6) Ibid. Schedule 2.2(c).
(7) Annual Report of the Auditor General's Office of New South Wales for the year ended 30 November 1992, p.36.
(8) Op. cit Schedule 1 38B 1 & 2.
(9) Op. cit Schedule 3.
(10) Annual Report of the Auditor General's Office of New South Wales for the year ended 30 November 1992, p.37.
(11) Op. cit Schedule 4.
(12) Op. cit Schedule 4 Section 10.
(13) Op. cit Schedule 1 Section 48A.
(14) Ombudsman (Amendment) Act (No. 37 1993) Schedule 2.
(15) Annual Report of the Auditor General's Office of New South Wales for the year ended 30 November 1993, p.6.
(16) Ibid., p.34.
(17) Annual Report of the Auditor General on the Audit Office of New South Wales for the year ended 30 November 1994, p.31.
(18) Annual Report of the Audit Office of New South Wales for the year ended 30 November 1995, p33.
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