The Auditor-General Act 2009 (the Act) governs the powers and functions of the Auditor-General.
The Act provides the legal basis for the Auditor-General’s access to all government information and the freedom to report findings arising from audit reports.
The main objectives of the Auditor-General Act 2009 are:
- to establish the position of the Queensland Auditor-General and the Deputy Auditor-General
- to establish the Queensland Audit Office (QAO)
- to confer on the Queensland Auditor-General and QAO the functions and powers necessary to carry out independent audits of the Queensland public sector and related entities
- to provide for the strategic review of QAO
- to provide for the independent audit of QAO.
The Act promotes the independence of the Auditor-General and all authorised auditors. This means the Auditor-General may conduct an audit in any way considered appropriate and is not subject to direction by any person about the way audit powers are to be exercised.
Professor Coaldrake's 2022 review identified opportunities to strengthen the independence of the Auditor-General. These opportunities are being addressed through amendments to the Auditor-General Act 2009.
The first tranche of changes were included in the Integrity and Other Legislation Amendment Act 2022, which was passed by Parliament on 30 November 2022 and assented to on 12 December 2022.
In June 2023, the Premier of Queensland introduced the Integrity and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2023 into Queensland Parliament, proposing further amendments to the Auditor-General Act 2009. Following its introduction, Parliament referred the Bill to the Economics and Governance Committee (EGC) for consideration. The EGC held an inquiry on the Bill which included seeking formal submissions from interested parties, holding a public briefing and a public hearing, and reporting back to parliament.
The Auditor-General provided a formal submission to the EGC and attended the public hearing to assist the committee with its consideration of the Bill. The Bill is presently awaiting further debate in parliament.
Australasian Council of Auditors General survey on independence
In 2009, the Victorian Auditor General’s Office commissioned a survey on behalf of the Australasian Council of Auditors General (ACAG) to compare the range of independence safeguards for Auditors General in the legislative frameworks for New Zealand, the Commonwealth of Australia, and in each Australian State and Territory.
The survey was repeated in 2013 and in 2020. The survey aimed to update the findings from the prior years by examining the legislative framework in effect in each jurisdiction as at March 2020. The resultant report titled Independence of Auditors General: A 2020 update of a survey of Australian and New Zealand legislation is provided below.