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Auditor-General wants more independence to hold govt to account

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In national rankings, the independence of Queensland’s Auditor-General has slipped from third to sixth, at a time when more oversight and scrutiny is needed.

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Auditor-General Brendan Worrall told a parliamentary committee the previous five-year review of his office had raised the issue of governments having too much control over its work. The Queensland situation differed from other jurisdictions.

Highlighting Queensland’s fall in the rankings administered by the Australasian Council of Auditors-General, Worrall said he wanted to progress that issue with the Palaszczuk government before the next review, which coincides with the end of the parliamentary term.

Worrall said, at a practical level, the lack of independence was evident in budgeting, the hiring and management of staff, even the routine tabling of the Queensland Audit Office annual report which he was required to do through the Premier’s office.

“We continue to encourage public sector entities to improve the timely release of their audited financial statements but I have no control over when this is done for QAO,” Worrall said, pointing to a delay of at least six weeks in tabling his last annual report.

Worrall has already foreshadowed a new body of work to determine whether agencies are keeping their commitment to do better. In addition to ongoing financial and performance audits, the QAO will this year examine whether the government’s major stimulus packages during the pandemic have provided value for money.

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