The ASU welcomed the announcement late last year of the establishment of a Senate Select Committee to inquire into the Federal Government's National Commission of Audit (NCA). We believe this Senate Committee will provide some independent advice and allow community views to be heard. The ASU has lodged a submission with the Senate Committee.
Generally, the ASU's submission to the Senate Committee reaffirms our position that the NCA's report must be considered as advisory only, as its membership is not politically balanced, nor democratically elected. The Government must assess the findings of the NCA against the Australian community's best interests.
We believe that the Senate has a unique and important role in respect of the NCA's ultimate report. That role includes ensuring whether the NCA's recommendations are fair and balanced, whether the NCA has considered all relevant matters, and even whether the NCA findings should be reconsidered, discounted or rejected by the Australian Parliament as not being in Australia's best interests.
We've also asked the Senate Committee through our submission to pay close attention to whether the NCA findings are based solely on financial considerations or result in the reduction of services to the community. In particular, we urge a serious consideration of any suggestions of further privatisation, as we believe this has negative impacts for the community.
The ASU endorses the ongoing role of the Senate in ensuring fairness, justice, equity for all Australians and ensuring a thorough review of Government policies instead of just simply ticking the box and signing off on legislation.
In summary, the ASU argues that the Australian Senate Select Committee of Inquiry into the Abbott Government's Commission of Audit should focus on four issues:
- maintain the democratic position of the Senate;
- oppose privatisation because it has proven time and time again privatisation fails to reduce government expenditure;
- protect financial support from government for those that need it most (including federal government funding for programs for community services – whether they be undertaken by the public or not-for-profit sector);
- address opposition from overseas to international and domestic issues.