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Your own sweet time: Auditor blasts government for sitting on critical reports for months

The Palaszczuk Government’s financial accountability watchdog has blasted the public service over delays in releasing key information on the performance of various departments, saying it is harming public trust in the integrity of government.

Apr 11, 2022, updated Apr 11, 2022
Auditor-General Brendan Worrall insisted annual reports needed to be released in a timely fashion if the information contained in them was to be of any use to the public

Auditor-General Brendan Worrall insisted annual reports needed to be released in a timely fashion if the information contained in them was to be of any use to the public

Auditor-General Brendan Worrall has expressed frustration at the bureaucracy’s continued practice of waiting months to release annual reports and financial statements even after he has signed off on them.

In a report tabled in state parliament on Monday, Worrall insisted annual reports needed to be released in a timely fashion if the information contained in them was to be of any use to the public.

“However, the timeliness of financial statements being made publicly available has deteriorated since 2019. This serves to weaken transparency and accountability,” he wrote.

“Ongoing delays in tabling annual reports reduce the ability of parliament and the public to meaningfully assess the financial performance of public sector entities and contribute to less trust in the integrity of government.”

He said most annual reports were tabled just in time to meet legislative deadlines, meaning they were released weeks and sometimes months after being signed off on.

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“In the health portfolio, most annual reports were tabled almost 3 months after the financial statements were signed. This was after the minister extended the tabling period, on the department’s recommendation,” he wrote.

The blast, contained in his annual assessment of state entities, follows months of controversy over the Government’s attitude to accountability and integrity issues.

Worrall has urged the government to sort the issue out, suggesting there should be laws stating the maximum number of days allowed between when financial statements are certified and when they are tabled in parliament.

“This is the case for Queensland local governments, which must table their annual reports in council within one month of certifying their financial statements,” he wrote.

Worrall also revealed weaknesses in the system of internal checks and balances for certain government agencies, warning that these undermined protections against fraud and overpayments of grants.

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