Minister Pat Conlon and his senior departmental executives were refusing to implement a key ruling by the Auditor-General which led to an audit qualification of the Department for Transport, Energy and Infrastructure’s (DTEI) 2006-07 financial accounts.
Mr Jim Hallion, CEO of the DTEI, and other senior executives were questioned at today’s meeting of the Legislative Council Budget and Finance Committee about why their Annual Report and Auditor-General’s Report on their department had not been produced almost nine months after the end of the financial year, Liberal MLC Rob Lucas said today.
“The Auditor-General reported to Parliament on all other departments almost six months ago and virtually all departments have presented their Annual Reports to Parliament,” Mr Lucas said.
“This is an outrageous breach of expected standards of accountability from departments.
“Information provided to the Liberal Party indicates there has been a significant dispute between audit staff and Mr Conlon’s department over aspects of the presentation of the 2007-08 financial accounts.”
Mr Lucas said it should also be noted that the Auditor-General reported in 2006-07 that the actions of Mr Conlon’s department did not comply with Australian Accounting Standards guidelines and as a result the Auditor-General would not agree with the accounts as reported.
“In particular, he stated that a number of ‘financial statement lines have been misstated” and he gave as examples Total Income and Accumulated Surplus figures for the department being ‘understated,’” he said.
“In today’s evidence, DTEI executives made it clear they would not change their financial accounts in accord with the views of the Auditor-General.
“Put simply, Mr Conlon and his department are refusing to accept the decision of the independent accounting umpire – the Auditor-General.
“The hypocrisy of this position should be self-evident to Mr Conlon, Mr Rann and Mr Foley who for years have always stated the Auditor-General is always right and they would always comply with his decisions!”