The Australian National Audit Office has an inconvenient habit, consistent with its statutory charter, of politely questtioning Government ineptitude or downright disregard of law. That's resulted in the funding restrictions that are evident in other agencies: if you can't abolish it, just make sure it's kept on short rations.
The Parliamentary Joint Committee of Public Accounts and Audit is now conducting an Inquiry into the Auditor-General Act 1997 (Cth), reflecting ss 8(g) and 8(h) of the Public Accounts and Audit Act 1951 (Cth).
The terms of reference are
To inquire into and report on the adequacy of general provisions contained in the Auditor-General Act 1997 (the Act), with particular reference to:
- the governance framework as it relates to the Auditor-General and the Australian National Audit Office (ANAO), including the independence of the Auditor-General as an Officer of the Parliament and the audit independence of the ANAO, and resourcing arrangements;
- the Auditor-General’s information gathering powers and confidentiality of information, including with reference to parliamentary privilege and the interaction between the Freedom of Information Act 1982 and the Act;
- the interaction of the Act and other relevant legislation including the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act 2013, the Public Accounts and Audit Committee Act 1951, Freedom of Information Act 1982, and the Parliamentary Privileges Act 1987;
- the Auditor-General’s capacity to initiate audits into, and examine the performance of all entities in the Australian Government sector; accessibility and transparency of reports and audit conclusions, including the operation of section 37 of the Act;
- the Audit Priorities of the Parliament;
- the role and appointment of the Independent Auditor; and any related matters.