RoLIA has just published a survey of responses to questions on notice for 2013 Senate Estimates involving the Treasury portfolio agencies. Responsiveness to these questions is one of the few ways in which the executive government is made accountable to the parliament, and thereby the electorate.
This data has been collated and analysed by RoLIA. Despite its public importance, it is not otherwise available in this form.
The results are abysmal, with the overwhelming majority of answers being provided by the Treasury agencies after the due date, and some not at all. Yet there are no apparent consequences for those agencies.
Particularly concerning is the continued failure of ASIC to respond. ASIC is currently the subject of a Senate Inquiry into its operation after it failed to act promptly on complaints about financial advisers. As a result, considerable numbers of elderly people were defrauded of their homes and life savings. The inquiry is due to report on 30 May 2014. RoLIA hopes that its recommendations improve the accountability of ASIC overall, including to Senate Estimates questions.
RoLIA recommends that all agencies and departments maintain a register of compliance with Senate Orders to provide transparency in the accountability process . It also recommends that the existing Senate Standing Rule be applied to require an explanation to be given for lateness or failure to respond to questions asked.
RoLIA has completed other surveys on questions on notice which can be found on our checks and balances page.