Liberal Member of the Legislative Council Rob Lucas has today called for major reform to the current process for the appointment of the Auditor General.
The position of the Auditor General is absolutely critical for ensuring public accountability of Government expenditure and decision making. It is therefore obviously vital that all Members of Parliament have confidence in whoever is to be appointed as the new Auditor General.
Mr Lucas said that, to achieve this goal, the same processes that are currently used to appoint the Ombudsman and the Electoral Commissioner should now be used to appoint the Auditor General.
“That process involves the bipartisan parliamentary committee – Statutory Officers Committee – to agree on a nomination and recommendation to the Parliament. Both Houses of Parliament then pass motions to approve the new appointments.
“If it makes sense to appoint the Ombudsman and the Electoral Commissioner in this way, then it clearly makes even more sense to use the same process to appoint the Auditor General.
“Whilst such a change would require legislative amendment, the same principle of bipartisan support for the current vacancy for Auditor General could be achieved through the Government voluntarily consulting with the Opposition prior to a final appointment.”
Mr Lucas also said that now is the time to introduce further major reforms:
• The term of appointment of all future Auditors General should be for a fixed and limited term of seven years with no reappointment allowed – most other states already appoint their Auditors General for a fixed term of between five and 10 years, rather than the current life time appointment with retirement at age 65;
• The current bipartisan Statutory Officers Committee should be responsible for conducting a performance review or audit of the Auditor General’s office every three years, as already occurs in some other jurisdictions such as Victoria. The results of such reviews are reported publicly.
“Given the fact that South Australia does not have an ICAC or similar anti-corruption body, the position of Auditor General takes on even more significance.
“It is imperative there is bipartisan support for the appointment of the new Auditor General and it is time for the Rann Government to agree to major reform of the current process.”