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Department of Premier and Cabinet

Premier's Memorandum

M1998-11 Government Responses to Public Accounts Committee Reports (Update)


Superseded by M2012-14

Detailed Outline

The Public Accounts Committee was established to exercise the Parliament's review powers over the efficiency, effectiveness and accountability of the public sector. The Committee's reports are based on extensive research and involve gathering evidence from a wide range of expert groups and interested parties.

The Public Accounts Committee's activities provide one avenue through which we can progress our commitment to improving the efficiency, effectiveness and accountability of the public sector. Public Accounts Committee reports therefore warrant due consideration by the Government.

The previous Premier's Memorandum on this matter (No. 96-09) indicated that the Government intends to respond to Public Accounts Committee reports within 6 months from tabling in the Parliament. This and other arrangements in that Memorandum stand but this updated version provides further clarification and refined arrangements.

The Cabinet Office will liaise with relevant Ministers and coordinate the preparation of a draft response for my endorsement prior to transmittal of the final Government response to Public Accounts Committee.

Depending on the subject matter of the Parliamentary Accounts Committee Report, the task of coordinating a draft response may be delegated to another Department such as Treasury in the case of matters that deal predominantly with budget and accounting policy, as well as matters in respect of service-wide financial management and auditing issues. These responses require the approval of the relevant Minister prior to the draft Government response being forwarded to me for endorsement.

The Public Accounts Committee may from time to time seek a follow-up response to a report approximately 18 months after it has been tabled in Parliament if there have been developments since the Government's initial response. It is intended that requests for follow-up responses will be addressed to the Premier. Similar arrangements to those outlined above will apply for this.

The Public Accounts Committee initiates a wide range of inquiries which seek input from Government Departments and other instrumentalities. Requests for input into such inquiries can vary from approaches to the Premier, the relevant Minister, or be made directly to Departments.

Whilst it is open to Parliamentary Committees to request input directly from Departments, it has been a long established protocol for Committees such as the Public Accounts Committee to first approach the relevant Minister with requests for submissions to inquiries. This is because the advocacy of Government policy is a Ministerial responsibility.

As many of the inquiries conducted by the Public Accounts Committee raise sensitive issues which require a whole of Government response, there is need to clarify the way the Government and agencies deal with the Public Accounts Committee both in providing terms of reference and submissions to the Public Accounts Committee.

As outlined in Ministerial Memorandum No. 93-08, Ministers should ensure that when they, or their departments are approached to provide responses to Public Accounts Committee inquiries that they are personally aware of and approve of the position being put by their agencies. Where the matter is significant, sensitive or affects the Government as a whole, or has cross-portfolio implications, Ministers should seek my endorsement and await my response before advising their departments to proceed. This also applies in respect of agency or Ministerial submissions on Public Accounts Committee discussion papers. A coordinated response to a Public Accounts Committee discussion paper, based on input from all relevant Ministers, may be appropriate in some circumstances.

Ministers may issue terms of reference for Public Accounts Committees inquiries under section 57(1)(f) of the Public Finance and Audit Act 1983. To ensure that these inquiries reflect Government priorities and there is no duplication, proposed terms of reference are to be forwarded to me for my endorsement prior to submitting to the Public Accounts Committee.

It would be appreciated if you could draw these matters to the attention of all organisations within your administration.

Bob Carr

related to M96-09 and M93-08


Who needs to know and/or comply with this?

AR Details

Date Issued
Jul 5, 2006
Review Date
Jul 5, 2016
Replaced By


9228 4930
Publishing Entity
Department of Premier and Cabinet
Issuing Entity
Department of Premier and Cabinet