Billions of dollars in government spending could go without scrutiny, after the Morrison Government slashed the Auditor General’s budget.
The Government has quietly cut $14m from the operating budget of the Australian National Audit Office, the agency responsible for uncovering the sports rorts scandal and the massive overspend on land at the Western Sydney airport.
David Crossthwaite, Democrats campaigner on accountability
We say it’s a blatant attempt to avoid independent examination of government-led projects.
The government has just announced billions of dollars in project-based expenditure and all of those projects should be audited by the ANAO.
The Auditor-General needs twice the funding it gets, not budget cuts.
Public trust in our institutions is more important now more than ever before but rather than engender confidence through honest scrutiny, this government prefers to operate in the dark.
In the lead up to last Tuesday’s budget, the auditor general wrote to the Prime Minister asking for an additional $6.3m in 2020-21, rising to $9.1m extra in 2023-24. Instead, the watchdog’s resources fell from $112m in 2019-20 to $98m in 2020-21.
Instead of the 42 performance audits delivered last year, the ANAO now expects to deliver 40 audits in 2021-22, declining to 38 by 2023-24.
Funding for the audit office fell by $17 million between 2016-17 and 2019-20.