25 September 2023

Auditor sets sail for Norfolk Island

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A performance audit of the arrangements made by Australia to provide services to Norfolk Island following abolition of the island’s self-government in 2015 has found implementation of some of the services to be ineffective.

In his report Design, Implementation and Monitoring of Reforms to Services on Norfolk Island, Auditor-General Grant Hehir found the Department of Infrastructure, Regional Development and Cities’ design of governance and administration arrangements were largely appropriate but “its implementation of those arrangements was partly effective”.

Mr Hehir said Norfolk Island was an external territory of the Commonwealth of Australia and the Norfolk Island Act 1979 established a level of self-government, providing for a Legislative Assembly, Executive Council, and the Administration of Norfolk Island.

“Until 2016, the Norfolk Island Government had responsibility for delivering services across the Local, State and Federal tiers of Government,” Mr Hehir said

He said however that in 2015 the Australian Government announced comprehensive reforms to governance and service delivery, including the abolition of the Norfolk Island Legislative Assembly and Executive Council and the creation of an interim Advisory Council.

He said it was now timely to undertake the audit which focused on the design, implementation and monitoring of reforms to services on Norfolk Island.

The audit concluded that while the arrangements were largely appropriate, implementation was only partly effective.

“Elements of the reform design relating to State and Local Government services could have benefited from more detailed analysis,” Mr Hehir said.

“Roles and responsibilities for the implementation of the reforms were clearly outlined, but the Department’s prioritisation plans lacked appropriate detail.”

He said that while the Department monitored the progress of the implementation of Australian Government services, there were weaknesses in its monitoring of the performance of State services.

The Auditor-General’s online report can be accessed at this PS News link and an 86-page printed report at this link.

The audit team was Sandra Dandie, Judy Jensen, James Sheeran and Paul Bryan.

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