Department of the Legislative Assembly

ANSWERS TO WRITTEN QUESTIONS - Answered by 28 November 2006

16 August 2005

90. Lodgement Costs

Ms CARNEY to MINISTER for JUSTICE and ATTORNEY-GENERAL

1. In last year’s budget papers, details were provided as to the ‘average cost per lodgement’, which was $7039. That indicator has been removed from this year’s budget. Why?

2. Do you believe that the public is not interested as to the average cost per lodgement?

3. Whose idea was it to remove this key indicator? What was the average cost per lodgement in 2004-05?

4. The budget for the lower courts in 2004-05 was $10 883. This year’s budget is $11 032. Please explain the reasons for the increase?

5. In last year’s budget papers, details were provided as to the ‘average cost per lodgement’, which was estimated at $521. That indicator has been removed from this year’s budget papers. Why? Do you believe that the public is not interested as to the average cost per lodgement?

6. Whose idea was it to remove this key indicator? What was the average cost per lodgement in 2004-05?

ANSWER

As advised in the 2005-06 Budget Paper 3, (p 5) during the 2004-05 year, the Northern Territory Treasury reviewed the measures of output delivery used by agencies and decided there were ‘inherent limitations on unit cost measures due to significant levels of fixed costs, short-term fluctuations in activity, and the aggregation of sub-outputs into output measures’.

Consequently, from 2005-06 agencies are not required to measure unit cost and this is why ‘average cost per lodgement’ does not appear in the 2005-06 Budget papers or thereafter.

The actual average cost per lodgement in the Higher Courts in 2004-05 was $8086, an increase from $7039 the previous year. Despite the fact that the number of cases lodged fell in 2004-05 and whilst Courts has significant fixed overhead costs, variable costs in the main are driven by sitting days and not lodgements. In 2003-04 the cost per sitting day was $5605 compared with $5215 in 2004-05, indicating an improvement in efficiency over the period.

In relation to question 4 above, the figures quoted actually refer to the Higher Court’s budget. The increase from 2004-05 to 2005-06 is due to parameters and back-pay and pay increases to the judiciary.

The actual average cost per lodgement in the Lower Courts in 2004-05 was $594. As with the Higher Courts, variable costs are driven by sitting days rather than lodgements. In 2003—04 the cost per sitting day was $370 compared with $353 per sitting day in 2004-05, also indicating an improvement in efficiency over the year.

29 November 2005

246. Accounting Officers’ Trust Account

Ms CARNEY to MINISTER for JUSTICE and ATTORNEY-GENERAL

1. Was there a discrepancy in the Accounting Officers’ Trust Account last financial year?

2. Was the amount of this discrepancy in the order of $6871 or an amount thereabouts?

3. Was the discrepancy in the area of money held on trust for prisoners in the Northern Territory?

4. Can you confirm that there has been no effective fraud protocols put in place until this year as indicated on page 20 of the Department of Justice Annual Report 2004-05, under the heading Fraud Control Arrangements?

ANSWER

Unreconciled item – Accountable Officer’s Trust Account:
    As noted in the Department of Justice 2005-06 Annual Report, an end-of-year agency compliance audit carried out by the Auditor-General’s Office found that there was an unreconciled item in the Accountable Officer’s Trust Account.

    The unreconciled item identified in the report totalled $6871 and related to a discrepancy between the Prisoner Money Management System (PMMS) and the Government Accounting System.

    Full reconciliation of the system has been achieved at Darwin Correctional Centre and it is expected that the same will be achieved at Alice Springs Correctional Centre shortly.

Fraud control protocols:
    In 2004-05, the Auditor-General conducted an audit of fraud control arrangements in a range of agencies, including the Department of Justice, and found an inconsistent approach to fraud control arrangements across government.

    As noted on page 20 of the Department of Justice Annual Report, the department agreed with the recommendations put forward by the Auditor-General and, in fact, had already adopted and commenced implementation of the DCIS fraud prevention and control policy, as recommended by the Auditor-General, before he undertook his audit. The policy has been published on the department’s Intranet site and in the Accounting and Property Manual.

    It is worth noting that no incidents of fraud have been identified within the Department of Justice.
Last updated: 04 Aug 2016