BILLIONS of dollars of COVID response measures aren't being properly assessed, meaning the Palaszczuk Government has no idea whether the money is supporting the state's battered economy as hoped.

Auditor-General Brendan Worrall delivered the rebuke in his first of a series of planned reports into the government's pandemic response, warning the Government should adopt strong oversight and proper reporting of its massive spending program.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk with Treasurer Cameron Dick. Picture: Attila Csaszar
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk with Treasurer Cameron Dick. Picture: Attila Csaszar

 

"While collating this report, we were unable to obtain information on some aspects of the response measures," he wrote of his audit of $7 billion worth of announcements as at August 21.

"Both Queensland Treasury and the Department of the Premier and Cabinet told us that, although they are involved in co-ordinating the response, they do not have complete information about what the uptake rates of the individual measures are.

"We recognise that government agencies have had to work under extraordinary circumstances during the pandemic, rapidly designing response measures to unprecedented events.

"However, it is critical that the effectiveness of the government's response is monitored and assessed to determine whether program outcomes have been achieved."

Queensland Auditor-General Brendan Worrall
Queensland Auditor-General Brendan Worrall

The Auditor-General's Office asked for uptake rates for the scores of skills and training, business grants, job support, household relief and other support announced.

"We were unable to obtain information on the uptake rates of most of the government's response measures from central government agencies," the report said.

"From our discussions with Queensland Treasury and the Department of the Premier and Cabinet, the information on uptake rates are with the individual delivery agencies and are not reported to central agencies."

The report does not assess effectiveness or value for money of the programs, but further reports may do.

Director-General of the Department of the Premier and Cabinet Dave Stewart with Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk during an Estimates Hearing at Parliament House. Picture: Dave Hunt)
Director-General of the Department of the Premier and Cabinet Dave Stewart with Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk during an Estimates Hearing at Parliament House. Picture: Dave Hunt)

A response from Premier and Cabinet Director-General Dave Stewart said the complexity and evolving nature of the pandemic had made it "difficult" to predict demand for measures and there was "limited" information on uptake rates because some measures were too recent.

His response said it was the responsibility of individual agencies to measure and monitor the achievements of commitments.

Opposition treasury spokesman Tim Mander said the report highlighted the government's lack of an economic plan and was "further proof they are flying blind during the biggest economic crisis in almost a century".

Opposition Deputy Leader Tim Mander. Picture: Dan Peled
Opposition Deputy Leader Tim Mander. Picture: Dan Peled

He said a full state budget was needed and the business-as-usual response "just won't cut it especially at a time when nearly 200,000 Queenslanders are looking for a job".

CCIQ spokeswoman Amanda Rohan said government stimulus had helped business stay afloat, but many had missed out due to ineligibility or cumbersome application processes.

"There's still a lot to be done to transform and grow our economy, that is why it is essential there is a cohesive plan and focus for every dollar spent to ensure it is going into the areas that will accelerate our economic recovery," she said.

Originally published as Exposed: Palaszczuk Govt 'flying blind' with $7b on the line


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