WOOL producers need to be consulted on the scope of the proposed Australian National Audit Office examination of Australian Wool Innovation, according to a peak grower body.
Senate Estimates heard this week that WoolProducers Australia has written to the ANAO seeking the expansion of the proposed audit’s terms of reference to include governance and financial management of AWI.
WPA chief executive officer Jo Hall told Sheep Central in order for a full ANAO audit to be conducted by the ANAO, the office would need to liaise with relevant stakeholders to set the context and understand the pertinent issues.
“This consultation should assist in setting the objective, scope and criteria, of the audit which should be wide ranging and thoroughly examine the operations and function of AWI given that it is a body funded by a compulsory levy and tax payer dollars,” she said.
The RRAT committee has requested an ANAO audit of AWI because of its concern at the lack of transparency and accountability around AWI’s failure to release an EY Port Jackson Partners report on AWI’s WoolQ platform, and AWI’s 2pc levy preference announcement weeks before it released details on its current reserves, projected income and wool production forecasts and project commitments.
The Auditor-General has stated that he would consider undertaking an audit of AWI this financial year (2021-22) or, if that were not possible, he would consider including the topic as a potential topic in the next annual audit work program.
An ANAO spokesperson said performance audits by their nature involve engagement between the ANAO and the audited entity as well as other stakeholders involved in the program or activity being audited.
“Performance audits do not feature a ‘terms of reference’, but rather feature an objective, scope and criteria.
“The first phase of the audit process involves planning the audit, including defining the audit objective, scope and audit criteria,” the spokesperson said.
“This phase generally involves a brief review of information relating to the program or activity to be audited, and consultation with the relevant entities and stakeholders. [From: A guide to conducting performance audits: https://www.anao.gov.au/work/corporate/guide-to-conducting-performance-audits]
The spokesperson said the Auditor-General, as an independent officer of the parliament, has complete discretion in the performance or exercise of the functions or powers.
“In exercising the mandated and discretionary functions and powers, the Auditor-General is not subject to direction from anyone in relation to,
- whether a particular audit is to be conducted;
- the way a particular audit is to be conducted; or
- the priority to be given to any particular matter.
The spokesperson said in the exercise of the functions or powers the Auditor-General, he must have regard to the audit priorities of the Parliament, as determined by the Joint Committee of Public Accounts and Audit.