On Friday, Governor Duncan Taylor and
Premier McKeeva Bush both issued statements concerning the recent report on
government procurement issued by the Auditor General’s Office. In short, Mr.
Taylor admonished Mr. Bush for making personal attacks on the auditor general
and his staff and Mr. Bush responded by saying he supported good governance,
but that the report wasn’t fair.
Mr. Bush said near the end of his statement
that the auditor general had a duty to report his findings to the Legislative
Assembly and the Public Accounts Committee, but that he “should not be in these
highfalutin every day interviews with the media.”
Ignoring the exaggeration of saying these
interviews occur every day – they don’t even occur every week or every month –
and the strange description of them being “highfalutin”, there is still
something very telling in Mr. Bush’s remarks.
At one time, the auditor general’s role
here was very much in the background. He made various reports that usually took
years to reach the public domain. As a result, auditor general’s reports were
mostly advisory in nature, ending up on a shelf collecting dust somewhere.
When Dan Duguay arrived, he championed a
more public and more useful role for the auditor general. Mr. Duguay advocated
the public release of auditor general’s reports immediately upon their delivery
to the speaker and members of the Legislative Assembly, instead of having to
wait until the Public Accounts Committee did its own investigation and report
before making it public. This was accomplished in 2006, when the House voted to
amend Legislative Assembly Standing Order 77(3).
The language of the amended Standing Order
states the auditor general’s reports “shall become a public document” upon its
receipt by the speaker. Given this, we think it is perfectly legitimate for the
auditor general to hold a press conference to discuss released reports with the
The problem is Mr. Bush is living in the
past. His contentions might have been valid at one point, but no more. Things have changed and Mr. Bush needs to
realise that sooner rather than later.