The ACT’s Auditor-General has urged another audit into WorkSafe ACT’s oversight of the Mr Fluffy asbestos eradication scheme, to ensure action was taken on recommendations on a previous audit.
Auditor-General Dr Maxine Cooper told a Legislative Assembly committee on Wednesday a government internal audit committee should examine the issue again, to help ensure WorkSafe ACT had taken on her recommendations.
The hearing on Wednesday examined the second of two audits into the Mr Fluffy scheme, released early this year, which had focussed on WorkSafe ACT’s management of the demolition of 1022 affected by the loose-fill asbestos.
It found the scheme marked by poor-record keeping, a lack of an overarching regulatory strategy and “considerable variability” in how the asbestos team actually completed inspections and oversaw demolitions.
Completed at about the halfway mark during the demolition program – when just over 500 homes had been torn down – Dr Cooper said the “hot audit” aimed to improve processes for the remaining half of the program.
But the audit, which examined the period from late 2014 to mid 2015 also coincided with the government’s creation of Access Canberra, which has taken on the vast majority of the government’s regulatory roles.
Dr Cooper said a new audit, which could be completed by the Chief Minister’s directorate’s audit and risk committee, should examine how the work safety regulator has actually taken on the audit’s eight recommendations it agreed to.
But she said it could also provide wider lessons for Access Canberra.
“A regulator is a regulator and Access Canberra has many regulators in different disciplines and given the findings of this audit, [a further audit could ask] has that assisted you in looking at the management of other areas within Access Canberra,” she said.
“I think the utility of both the audit and what WorkSafe are doing is looking at it in terms of better practices that might then be conveyed across all regulators in terms of setting the benchmark for what’S expected in the territory.”
Dr Cooper said one of the key difficulties the audit office faced in its investigation was the lack of a formal strategy and documentation hampering its ability to actually measure the “effectiveness” of WorkSafe’s oversight of the demolitions.
“The critical issue is how well have they implemented those recommendations, which were all agreed to, and potentially in order to answer the effectiveness question, it would be appropriate for an audit to be undertaken,” she said.