Three interviewees suggested that the ABS was interested in receiving better

Three interviewees suggested that the abs was

This preview shows page 237 - 239 out of 354 pages.

Three interviewees suggested that the ABS was interested in receiving better quality data, and it is reasonable to assume that they would take some assurance from an audit of GFS numbers. Professor Anthony Harris (JCPAA 2001) who was a long time public servant in Canberra and Auditor General of New South Wales from 1992-1999 raised the issue to the JCPAA on 22 June 2001: Prof. HARRIS […] What you do not audit is the budget outcome. So when the Treasurer, if he ever does, says, ‘Last year, we incurred a surplus of $600 million,’ no -one audits that figure and no-one audits the extent to which the Treasurer, in his presentation of those budget figures, GFS government finance statistic figures has deviated from standards. He may voluntarily indicate that he has deviated from a standard with the GST, for example but no-one audits that adherence to standards. The ABS will eventually, in retrospect, come out with statements in its view of what the government financial statistics outcome was for the Commonwealth and each of the states, but you do not have any authoritative audit process. Mr COX —Can we clarify one point of Tony’s? I am vaguely aware that there is a certain amount of tension at the moment between the ABS and the states in relation to some of their budget presentation. Are you aware of that fact? Prof. HARRIS I am aware that some states would wish the ABS to agree with some states’ presentation of GFS data, which the ABS should not agree with, in my view, and probably will not agree with.
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224 Mr COX This is an important point. Are you aware of any situations where the states and you do not have to name the states have given information that is not correct to the ABS? Prof. HARRIS —No, I am not aware of that.” The conversation suggests that no incorrect information had been provided to the ABS and the need of such audits, as promoted by the PEs could be questioned. At the same meeting (JCPAA 2001), Mr McPhee was asked about his willingness to audit GFS statements in his role as Deputy Auditor-General. He responded: “Mr Chairman, on the particular matter of interest to you, about whethe r the Audit Office would like to expand its small empire to take on the audit of the budget, I have to say that this comes up from time to time. The approach that we have taken through our performance audit process is to look at the budget preparation at various points in time. A few years ago we did do an audit of the budget processes. In terms of giving a particular opinion, we have not been strongly in favour of that, because there are many other factors which drive the budget numbers other than just the financial numbers: the state of the economy, unemployment numbers, a whole range of other parameters which we would need to get across. We would obviously need a fair amount of resources if we were to do that, to assess the accuracy of the estimates. The biggest concern is that I am very conscious that economists can never pick the downturns or rarely pick the downturns. So I hesitate to add our credibility to some of those numbers some of
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  • Fall '13
  • Government, The Land, International Financial Reporting Standards, Financial Accounting Standards Board, Australian Accounting Standards Board, Snow

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