17 August 2011

Brendan Smyth on the appointment of the Auditor-General

| johnboy
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Liberal Brendan Smyth is having a mighty vent after having been used as a rubber stamp by Katy Gallagher:

The Standing Committee on Public Accounts has a formal role in the appointment process of the ACT Auditor-General, and the Chief Minister cannot independently appoint a candidate, Mr Smyth said.

Despite this, I first became aware the ACT Government had decided upon a candidate for this position through media reports on 31 May, generated by a media release from Katy Gallagher titled New Auditor-General for the ACT? announcing the name of a candidate and thanking the committee for its agreement? to this appointment.

The night the appointment became public, the candidate approached the Committee Chair at a public function. The Chair was most concerned by this inappropriate approach and immediately informed all Committee members of the conversation.

During the process, the Chief Minister also spoke with the Committee Chair. The Chair also told the Committee the candidate had directly approached the ACT Auditor-Generals Office.

In light of the Committees concerns, it sought legal advice from the ACT Government Solicitor, requested an extension of time to consider the situation, and sought further information and met with the Chief Minister and the Head of the ACT Public Service.

My fundamental concern, however, has been the extraordinary pressure placed on the Committee while it considered the appointment of the new ACT Auditor-General.

This appointment process involves one of the most important statutory roles in our form of democratic government. I considered these flaws in the process to be of such magnitude that I could not remain as the Deputy Chair of the Committee, and I will be moving legislative amendments to address some of the issues that arose during this process.

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What we don’t see anywhere is what the committee actually decided – did it make itself a rubber stamp or did it stand up to Gallagher and turn down the proposed appointment on principal?

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