Outgoing Auditor-General Des Pearson. Photo: Craig Abraham
LABOR has blocked the outgoing Auditor-General from tabling a report in Parliament that reflected badly on the Brumby government.
The 24-page report, obtained by The Age, sums up Des Pearson's six years and 200 audits as the state's financial watchdog and reflects on the continuing problems in the Victorian public sector. It was due to be tabled on Tuesday.
But Labor MP Matt Viney - in his capacity as upper house deputy president - refused to table the report, effectively gagging one of the state's most senior integrity officers.
Mr Pearson's report was unusual because it was not an audit, and therefore could not be tabled under his normal legislation. He had to rely on MPs to table his final report and the Parliament requested the job be undertaken by Mr Viney and lower house deputy speaker, Christine Fyffe.
In the report, Mr Pearson said Victorians had missed out on services because of failures in the planning and delivery of infrastructure, the lack of quality information available for decision making, governance and oversight problems, a lack of transparency and below-par procurement practices.
''It concerns me that, time after time, our audits identify the same shortcomings and the same failures to meet common challenges at the core of effective public administration,'' he said.
Mr Pearson used examples from past reports to back his case - many of them tabled during the Brumby government. These included probes into the Food Bowl Modernisation Project, the HealthSMART IT project, water infrastructure planning, strategies to prevent alcohol-related harm, action on problem gambling and the nurse-on-call program.
Mr Viney said his refusal to table the report was not because of its criticism of Labor's time in office. The report did not meet any of the specific criteria laid out in the Audit Act. ''I didn't think it was appropriate for me as deputy president to table the report. I understand the Labor Party has made it clear to the Auditor-General that it would provide leave for his report to be tabled.''
But Labor's suggestion that a minister table the report was inappropriate, according to government and parliamentary sources, as the Auditor-General reports to Parliament, not the executive. Although any MP could table such a report, The Age understands the Auditor-General felt there was no other alternative but to consider publishing a modified version of the report on his website.
The report discloses:
■Repeated failures in the public sector to collect enough information for sound decision making, sometimes even failing to provide information to decision makers. Several audits found major projects were approved without a business case.
■There were often no outside experts verifying the accuracy or completeness of data and methodologies of the public service.
■There was insufficient collaboration and accountability on big projects needing a whole-of-government approach.
■The public sector's reporting on its performance was below best-practice and had declined in the past 10 years.
■Government procurement of goods and services often lacked transparency, regularly leading to missed opportunities to improve performance and save taxpayers' money. Some agencies failed to encourage sufficient competition and could not demonstrate how they had evaluated competing bids.
A Baillieu government spokesperson said Labor had shown its hypocrisy by blocking the tabling of a report by one of the state's key integrity officers.