Senate debates

Tuesday, 2 August 2022


Australian National Audit Office

1:46 pm

Photo of Gerard RennickGerard Rennick (Queensland, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

Last week, the Auditor-General released an audit report into the Building Better Regions Fund and tried to somehow allege that the government didn't act in the best interests of the taxpayers in spending that money. I should point out that $1.2 billion was spent over five years. Last night, I read that audit report. I went through it to look for what actually was spent and where it was spent wrongly, and I noticed that the Auditor-General didn't mention once where the money was actually not spent properly or wasn't in the best interests of the taxpayer. I've got a bit of history here with the Auditor-General. Last year he made the accusations—very unfair accusations—that the former coalition government had paid too much for the land at the Leppington Triangle. That was completely false.

In my 25 years of financial accounting, I've never seen a worse audit report prepared. The Auditor-General failed to comply with AASB13, paragraphs 29 and 30, which say all land must be valued at best use regardless of zoning. The Auditor-General tried to claim that the land was agricultural land when it was actually in the airport zone. You don't buy land for an airport and then put cattle on it; you tend to build. So it has to be for best use.

He failed to consult with staff in the department. One of the staff in the department—who was completely innocent, mind you—had the Federal Police turn up on his doorstep, in front of his children, which was very intimidating to the staffer. These powers shouldn't be abused, and the Auditor-General should not be being political in what should be an impartial position.

When we look at the market value for five minutes—when I first heard about this, I hopped on and looked up the suburb, and five acres was going for $6 million. So you could work out in a matter of minutes that what the coalition had paid was clearly the market value. I would suggest in future that much better quality assurance be applied to our auditing.