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Opinions on Ministerial Notifications

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Ministerial decisions not to provide information to Parliament

Introduction

This report deals with 2 decisions by 2 Ministers not to provide information to Parliament.

  • One decision by the Minister for Education and Training, the Hon Sue Ellery MLC, not to provide Parliament with 2 documents previously released to the Hon Mia Davies MLA under the Freedom of Information Act 1992 (FOI Act).
  • One decision by the Minister for Child Protection; Women’s Interests; Prevention of Family and Domestic Violence; Community Services, the Hon Simone McGurk MLA, not to provide information to Parliament about an information session on out-of-home care.

Section 82 of the Financial Management Act 2006 (FM Act) requires a Minister who decides that it is reasonable and appropriate not to provide certain information to Parliament, to give written notice of the decision to both Houses of Parliament and the Auditor General within 14 days of the decision.

Section 24 of the Auditor General Act 2006 requires the Auditor General to provide an opinion to Parliament as to whether the Minister’s decision was reasonable and appropriate.

It is our longstanding approach to enquire into only those matters raised in the Minister’s written notice. It would be onerous and impractical for us to identify and report on all other Ministerial decisions not to provide information to Parliament. When we do become aware that a Minister has decided not to provide information to Parliament, we may write to them reminding them of their obligations under section 82 of the FM Act.

What we did

The Audit Practice Statement on our website (www.audit.wa.gov.au) sets out the process we follow to arrive at our section 82 opinions, including:

  • a review of entity documents
  • a review of any advice provided to the relevant Minister by entities, the State Solicitor’s Office (SSO) or other legal advisers
  • interviews with key entity persons including discussions about our draft findings and the Auditor General’s opinion.

Our procedures are designed to provide sufficient appropriate evidence to support an independent view to Parliament on the reasonableness and appropriateness of the Minister’s decision.

We have not performed an audit, however our procedures follow the key principles in the Australian Auditing and Assurance Standards.

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