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Government responses to committee reports - Role of the Auditor-General in resolving matters referred to in a report
This document outlines the role of the Auditor-General in resolving matters referred to in a Parliamentary Committee1 report when a Government response, or explanatory statement, has not been presented within six months, or questions on the explanatory statement have not been answered to the satisfaction of the committee.
Government responses to committee reports
In September 2010, the House of Representatives adopted the following resolution:
- Within a period of six months from the presentation in the House of a report by a House or Joint Committee, the Government shall present its response to the recommendations contained in the report to the House.
- If a period of six months has elapsed from a report being presented and a response has not been presented, the relevant Minister (or Minister representing the Minister) shall:
- present to the House at the next available opportunity a signed statement stating the reasons for the delay in presentation of the response, and
- make himself or herself available to appear at the next reasonably available opportunity following a request by the relevant committee to answer its questions on that statement.
- If a response has not been presented in the required time and an explanatory statement has not been presented and questions on the statement not answered to the satisfaction of the committee, the committee may bring the matter to the attention, if appropriate, of the Auditor-General for assistance in resolving matters referred to in the report or to the Speaker for assistance in resolving the response process.
Notification of a matter that requires the Auditor-General’s assistance to resolve
Notification of a matter referred to in a Parliamentary Committee report that requires the Auditor-General’s assistance to resolve will be advised to the Auditor-General by the relevant committee as soon as practicable after the committee determines that such a course of action is appropriate. It is expected that the notification will include:
- a statement of the matter(s) referred to in the report;
- a copy of the statement made by the relevant Minister (or Minister representing the Minister) stating the reasons for the delay in presentation of the response (where available);
- copies of any correspondence between the Parliamentary Committee and the Minister (or Minister representing the Minister) relating to the matter; and
- a request for the Auditor-General to assist in resolving the matter.
The Auditor-General will:
- review relevant documents;
- seek an explanation and further follow-up any required clarification why the Government response has not been provided within the specified time from any person who the Auditor-General considers may have information that would be relevant, including the relevant Minister or Minister representing the Minister;
- take any other reasonable steps, in consultation with the parties, that may lead to resolution of the matter; and
- report to the Chair of the Parliamentary Committee concerned on the outcome of this process including, where appropriate, suggestions for resolving the matter.
The Auditor-General will also provide a copy of the report provided to the Chair of the Parliamentary Committee to: the relevant Minister, the Prime Minister, the Accountable Authority(s) of the relevant departments(s) and other commonwealth entities.
1 For the purposes of this document a Parliamentary Committee is a committee of the House of Representatives and a Joint Committee, where the committee’s report is tabled in the House of Representatives.