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The audit was conducted in response to a November 2000 resolution of the Senate that the Auditor-General examine all expenditures and entitlements accruing to Parliamentarians in 1999-2000. The objectives of the audit were to:
provide assurance to the Parliament regarding the administration by Finance, the chamber departments and the portfolio departments of all expenditures and entitlements accruing to Parliamentarians, including Ministers, in 1999-2000;
assess the administrative and control structures governing expenditures and entitlements accruing to Parliamentarians and Ministers in 1999-2000; and
identify opportunities to improve the current framework.
The audit focused on the sale of properties from that portion of the domestic property estate managed by the Department of Finance and Administration and identified for sale via a three year divestment strategy of the Commercial Office Estate by Government in April 1997. The audit sought to assess the effectiveness of the management of the sales process for selected property sales, including the extent to which the Government's sale objectives have been achieved; review the long-term sale and leaseback arrangements for selected divested properties and whether they adequately protect the Commonwealth's interests; and identify principles of sound administrative practice to facilitate improved administrative arrangements for future property sales.
Taxation rulings are a key mechanism used by the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) to disseminate the Commissioner of Taxation's interpretative advice on Australian taxation law. The objective of the audit was to:
report to Parliament on the operation of the ATO's administration of taxation rulings (public, private and oral rulings); and where appropriate, make recommendations for improvements, having regard to considerations of: efficiency and effectiveness of the ATO's administration of the rulings system, particularly in relation to the achievement of the objectives set by Parliament for the rulings system; the ATO's systems' capacity to deliver consistency and fairness for taxpayers; and good corporate governance, including the control framework.
Allegations were made to the Senate Economics References Committee that the Australian Taxation Office and Australian Customs Service (Customs) had failed to pursue several cases of detected sales tax fraud. The Committee believed that this alleged failure may have stemmed from coordination problems between the two agencies. The Committee requested the Auditor-General to investigate this matter and report his findings to the Parliament.