The Auditor-General responded on Thursday 13 July 2023 to correspondence from Senator Jacqui Lambie dated 16 June 2023, requesting that the Auditor-General consider an audit of the Inspector-General of the Australian Defence Force. The Auditor-General provided a follow-up response to Senator Lambie on 4 October 2023.

The Auditor-General received further correspondence from Senator Lambie on 6 October 2023 and 3 November 2023. The Auditor-General provided a follow-up response to Senator Lambie on 15 November 2023.

Auditor-General's follow-up response

15 November 2023

Senator Jacquie Lambie
Senator for Tasmania
By email: Senator.Lambie@aph.gov.au

Dear Senator Lambie

Request for audit of Office of Inspector-General of the Australian Defence Force – correspondence of 3 November 2023

I am writing in response to your letter of 3 November 2023 relating to your earlier requests that I consider undertaking an audit of the Office of the Inspector-General of the Australian Defence Force (IGADF).

I note that your letter follows two prior exchanges of correspondence, which are available from the ANAO website at: Audit of the Inspector-General of the Australian Defence Force | Australian National Audit Office (ANAO)

The first exchange comprised your letter of 16 June 2023 and my reply of 13 July 2023, in which I advised that the timing of your request for an audit of the effectiveness and efficiency of the IGADF meant that the ANAO had not had an opportunity to consider such an audit in its planning for the annual audit work program. I further advised that the work program is reviewed periodically during the year and the ANAO would consider the proposed audit topic in that context.

In respect to the first exchange of correspondence, we made no contact, at any level, with the Department of Defence — including the Secretary of Defence, Chief of the Defence Force or IGADF — in the production of my response to you of 13 July 2023. Consistent with our normal practice, and in the interests of transparency, our external relations team advised your office on 22 June 2023 that correspondence regarding a request for audit received from Members of Parliament, and the Auditor-General’s responses, are published on the ANAO website and the Parliament’s Joint Committee of Public Accounts and Audit (JCPAA) is notified. Your letter of 16 June 2023 was placed on our website on 4 July 2023 and my response of 13 July 2023 was placed on our website after it was provided to you.

The second exchange comprised a follow-up response from the Acting Auditor-General to you of 4 October 2023, and your response to me of 6 October 2023. In that correspondence, the Acting Auditor-General noted the commencement of a 20-year review of the IGADF and that having regard to that review, the ANAO did not intend to undertake an audit of IGADF at this time. However, the ANAO would consider the outcome of the review in the development of the 2024-25 annual audit work program. In your response to me, you reiterated the benefit of an ANAO audit.

In respect to the second exchange of correspondence, the ANAO engaged with our audit liaison officer in the Department of Defence on 14–15 September 2023 to arrange a meeting with the IGADF. This was done to consider the scope of a potential audit including to determine the auditability of the IGADF’s functions. Two ANAO officials met with the IGADF and one of his senior officials on 19 September 2023, to gather background information on the IGADF and supporting office, to supplement their own research on the potential scope and timing of a performance audit. The ANAO officials were informed of the proposed 20-year review at that meeting. They requested the terms of reference for the review and a copy of the IGADF Strategic Plan and received those documents on 20 September 2023. The 20-year review was announced publicly on 3 October 2023. As noted in the Acting Auditor-General’s correspondence to you of 4 October 2023, the commencement of this review informed her decision to not undertake an ANAO audit at this time. In making decisions on whether to undertake an audit, the ANAO seeks to not unnecessarily duplicate other review activity being undertaken and takes into account the capacity of organisations to support the audit (particularly small organisations such as the IGADF). Consistent with our normal practice, the second exchange of correspondence was also placed on our website.

In summary, in considering your earlier correspondence, the office of Auditor-General has acted at all times in accordance with the independence provisions in section 8 of the Auditor-General Act 1997 (the Act). Specifically, subsection 8(4) provides that the Auditor-General has complete discretion in the performance or exercise of his or her functions or powers, and in particular, is not subject to direction from anyone in relation to whether or not a particular audit is to be conducted, or the way in which a particular audit is to be conducted, or the priority to be given to any particular matter.

I note that your letter of 3 November 2023 seeks certain documents under the Freedom of Information Act 1982 (FOI Act). While the Auditor-General is as an exempt agency pursuant to section 7 of the FOI Act, I believe that the information set out above provides the key information you have sought.

As advised in the Acting Auditor-General’s correspondence of 4 October 2023, the ANAO will consider the outcome of the 20-year review in the development of the 2024-25 annual audit work program.

Consistent with our normal practice, and in the interests of transparency, this further exchange of correspondence will also be placed on the ANAO website and the JCPAA notified, as it relates to a request for audit received from a parliamentarian.

Yours sincerely

Grant Hehir
Auditor-General

Correspondence from Senator Jacqui Lambie

Letter from Senator Jacqui Lambie for FOI request to the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet

Transcript of letter from Senator Jacqui Lambie

3 November 2023

Grant Hehir
Auditor-General
Australian National Audit Office
38 Sydney Avenue
Forrest ACT 2603

Dear Mr Grant Hehir

Re: Freedom of Information Request – Australian National Audit Office

I am writing to submit a freedom of information (FOI) request pursuant to the Freedom of Information Act 1982, to access documents from the Australian National Audit Office (ANAO).

On 16 June 2023, I wrote a letter to the Auditor-General to request an audit on the Office of the Inspector-General of the Australian Defence Force (IGADF). A summary of my reasons, which have been provided in submissions and emails to the ANAO, include:

I have recently discovered that the Auditor-General contacted the Secretary of Defence about my request to conduct an audit on the Office of the IGADF (Senate Estimate Hansard dated 25 October 2023, page 68). As such, I am seeking copies of all documents, including briefings, emails and records of correspondence since 16 June 2023 between the ANAO and the Office of the IGADF that relate to my request to conduct an audit.

As part of my FOI request, I am also seeking copies of all documents, including briefings, emails and records of correspondence since 16 June 2023 that demonstrate the decision-making process of the Auditor-General to refuse my request to conduct audit on the IGADF.

I am requesting that titles, dates, positions, names, content and email domains be left unredacted.

Thank you for your time and I look forward to your response.

Your sincerely

Senator Jacqui Lambie

Correspondence from Senator Jacqui Lambie

Correspondence from Senator Jacqui Lambie 6 October 2023

Transcript of letter from Senator Jacqui Lambie

6 October 2023

Mr Grant Hehir
Auditor-General
Australian National Audit Office
35 Sydney Avenue
Canberra ACT 2603

Dear Mr Grant Hehir,

Re: Audit of the Inspector-General of the Australian Defence Force

Thank you for responding to my request to audit the Inspector-General of the Australian Defence Force (IGADF).

As discussed in my email dated 18 September, the Royal Commission into Defence and Veteran Suicide raised multiple concerns with the IGADF and implied that an urgent audit is necessary to protect our soldiers. It is clear the delay of any meaningful investigation will continue to damage the trust and confidence in the Australian Defence Force.

The Terms of Reference to the IGADF Twenty-Year Review does not go into the matters that I have asked to be audited. As such, it is disgraceful that the announcement of the Twenty-Year Review is being used to delay the consideration of an audit until the “development of the 2024-2025 annual audit work program”. This is yet another example of ADF Senior Command and the IGADF seeking to mark their own homework. They will undoubtedly find themselves to be above reproach and beyond criticism.

As the IGADF marks its twentieth year of operation and has never been subject to an audit, it is only fitting for an audit to be conducted as soon as possible.

Yours sincerely,
Senator Jacqui Lambie

Auditor-General's follow-up response

4 October 2023

Senator Jacquie Lambie
Senator for Tasmania
By Email: senator.lambie@aph.gov.au

Dear Senator Lambie

Request for audit of the Inspector-General of the Australian Defence Force

I am writing a follow-up response to the Auditor-General’s letter dated 13 July 2023 in relation to your request for an audit of the Office of the Inspector-General of the Australian Defence Force (IGADF).

As you may be aware, on 3 October 2023 the Inspector-General of the Australian Defence Force, Secretary of the Department of Defence and the Chief of the Defence Force announced the commencement of an independent review of the Office of the IGADF (IGADF Twenty-Year Review). Having regard to this review I do not intend to undertake an audit of IGADF at this time.

The ANAO will consider the outcome of the review in the development of the 2024-25 annual audit work program.

Yours sincerely

Rona Mellor PSM
Acting Auditor-General

Auditor-General's response

13 July 2023

Senator Jacqui Lambie
Senator for Tasmania
By Email: Senator.Lambie@aph.gov.au

Dear Senator Lambie

Request for audits of the Inspector-General of the Australian Defence Force and the Afghanistan Inquiry

I am writing in response to your letter of 16 June 2023 in which you requested that I consider undertaking an audit of the effectiveness and efficiency of the Inspector-General of the Australian Defence Force and an audit of the Afghanistan Inquiry conducted by Major General the Hon Paul Brereton, including the inquiry’s expenditure of funds and its design and administration.

The Inspector-General of the Australian Defence Force (IGADF) provided the Inspector-General of the Australian Defence Force Afghanistan Inquiry Report (the report) to the Chief of the Defence Force (CDF) in 2020. The IGADF appointed Major General the Hon Paul Brereton AM RFD as an Assistant IGADF to conduct that inquiry.

I note that the IGADF attested, in the report transmittal letter to CDF dated 10 November 2020, that ‘Major General Brereton is a judicial officer and conducted the inquiry independently in accordance with Division 4A of the IGADF Regulation.’ The transmittal letter is included in the public version of the report. I also note that the report is an input to the ongoing work of the Special Investigator and Office of the Special Investigator. The Office of the Special Investigator states that its purpose includes review of the findings of the IGADF Afghanistan Inquiry and that the Special Investigator’s role is to review the findings of the report, undertake investigations where required and refer briefs of evidence to the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions where appropriate. Having regard to the IGADF’s attestation to CDF and the ongoing review by the Special Investigator and supporting office, I do not propose to undertake an audit of the IGADF Afghanistan Inquiry.

The Australian National Audit Office (ANAO) has recently concluded the development of its 2023–2024 Annual Audit Work Program (the work program), which was published on 6 July 2023 and is available from https://www.anao.gov.au/work-program. The work program reflects the ANAO’s audit strategy and informs the Parliament, government entities and the public of the planned audit coverage for the Australian Government sector. The timing of your request for an audit of the effectiveness and efficiency of the IGADF means that the ANAO has not had an opportunity to consider such an audit in its planning for the work program. The work program is reviewed periodically during the year and the ANAO will consider the proposed audit topic in that context.

Yours sincerely

Grant Hehir
Auditor-General

Correspondence from Senator Jacqui Lambie

Correspondence from Senator Jacqui Lambie. A transcript of the correspondence is located on this page.

Transcript of letter from Senator Jacqui Lambie

16 June 2023

Mr Grant Hehir
Auditor-General
Australian National Audit Office
35 Sydney Avenue
Canberra ACT 2603

Dear Mr Grant Hehir

Re: Audit of the Inspector-General of the Australian Defence Force

I am writing to request the Australian National Audit Office (ANAO) consider an audit of the Inspector-General of the Australian Defence Force.

The Inspector-General of the Australian Defence Force is appointed by the Australian Government to oversee the quality and fairness of Australia’s military justice system, promote trust and justice in the Australian Defence Force and to ensure all defence personnel have access to a fair and impartial military justice system.

The Inspector-General of the Australian Defence Force was established in 2003 following the
recommendations of former Justice Mr James Burchett QC’s 2001 review into military justice arrangements in the Australian Defence Force. However, it was recently revealed in Senate Estimates that the Inspector-General of the Australian Defence Force has never been subject to an audit.1

I understand that the ANAO assesses Commonwealth spending to the standard of ‘proper’ under the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act 2013, which necessitates ‘efficient, effective, economical and ethical’ use of public resources.

Subject to your views, I envisage an audit will look at the effectiveness and efficiency of the Inspect-General of the Australian Defence Force as a whole. I am also seeking an audit on the expenditure of funds for the Afghanistan Inquiry conducted by Major General Justice Paul Brereton and an investigation into its design and administration.

Thank you for your consideration and I look forward to your response.

Your sincerely

Senator Jacqui Lambie
Senator for Tasmania

1 Senate Hansard, Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Legislation Committee, Estimates dated 30 May 2023, page 114.