The Auditor General appears to have criticised unfairly the actions of the Police Commissioner and SAPOL in a recent DNA case, Shadow Police Minister Rob Lucas said today.
“On September 6, 2006, when giving evidence to the ‘Stashed Cash’ Select Committee, the Auditor General launched a blistering attack on SAPOL for not cooperating with an Auditor General’s enquiry,” Mr. Lucas said.
Hon. Nick Xenophon: “What happens if you’ve got an uncooperative department? Let’s say someone is trying to hide something, how do you get to the bottom of it, how do you get to the truth of the transaction?
Auditor General: “We do that. This is happening this year actually where a couple of agencies have said to us, ‘You’ve got no right to go here. We’re not going to provide this information.’ This is current. They are issues which sound in terms of propriety, lawfulness and consequence for the state of South Australia…”
Further on, he said:
Auditor General: “…That is the red light as far as I am concerned. As I said: no audit, no accountability – no accountability, no control. The bottom line is the parliament has to rely upon me to alert it to what the executive is doing and, if I am frustrated by any agency, we will take whatever steps are necessary to resolve the issue…”
Following the Auditor General’s attack there were headlines in the media, including ‘Agencies refuse to let funds face audit’ and ‘Warning of more stashed cash.’
However, Acting Commissioner White and the Police Minister told Estimates Committee today that the Commissioner of Police believed he was prevented by Section 47 of the Criminal Law (Forensic Procedures) Act from releasing the information to the Auditor General. The Commissioner of Police had sought legal advice from the Crown Solicitor to ensure he would not be breaking the law himself if he complied with the Auditor General’s request.
“It seems unfair and unreasonable to me that the Auditor General should on this basis have launched such an attack on the Police Commissioner and SAPOL,” Mr. Lucas said.
The Auditor General was embarrassed yesterday when he had to apologise for a wrong statement he made in Estimates Committee about the former Liberal Government.
“The Auditor General should consider his position on this issue and issue an apology to the Police Commissioner,” he said.