New laws boost public transparency and accountability by providing Western Australia’s Auditor General with unprecedented express statutory rights to access highly sensitive government information.
The Auditor General serves a critical role in public integrity, as an independent officer of the Parliament who is responsible for scrutiny of the finances and activities of State and local government entities.
The outcomes of these investigations are reported to the Parliament, giving Western Australians confidence that their government is serving their best interests.
The Auditor General Amendment Bill 2022 passed through both houses of State Parliament today. The reforms significantly enhance Government transparency and accountability. Crucially, the new legislation provides the Auditor General with a statutory right to access Cabinet documents and Government’s legal advice.
Further, instead of having to physically attend the Department of Premier and Cabinet to view Cabinet documents, this highly sensitive Government information will be made available in an electronically secure form to the Auditor General’s office.
Importantly, the Bill does not confer access to documents which are subject to Parliamentary privilege, which will remain the remit of the Parliament.
As stated by Treasurer Mark McGowan:
“We are the first Government in Western Australia’s history to give the Auditor General access to sensitive documents, such as Cabinet documents and legal advice.
“This in turn will provide the public with assurance that the decisions and actions of Government are accountable, and that public money is spent appropriately.
“The new legal framework empowers the Auditor General to further assist Parliament in holding governments to account, strengthening the trust, transparency, and accountability of Government with the community.”
As stated by Attorney General John Quigley:
“In the interests of transparency, the McGowan Government wants the Auditor General to see everything so that they can measure the Government’s actions against the advice it receives and the information that was before Cabinet when a decision was reached.
“The Auditor General will be in a position to report to the people of Western Australia about whether the proper processes have been undertaken and whether they are satisfied that the Government has acted on proper legal advice and taken the proper matters into consideration when making decisions.
“The new laws ensure there is total transparency between the Government and the independent Office of the Auditor General.”