On 20 March 2009, the changes to the Financial Management
and Accountability Act 1997 (Cth) (FMA Act)
introduced by the Financial Framework Legislation Amendment Act
2008 (Cth) took effect. The amendments are aimed at
simplifying the process for Commonwealth agencies to allow
contractors to make payments on their behalf. Prior to the
amendments, section 12 of the FMA Act only allowed the Minister for
Finance to authorise arrangements for the receipt and custody of
public money. Payment of public money could only be authorised
under the FMA Act if agencies opened an official account under
section 9 and issued an "outsider" with drawing
The changes now allow a person, who is neither a Minister nor an
official in an FMA Act agency, to make payments of public money,
where the agreement or arrangement engaging them is authorised by
Parliament or the Finance Minister (for example, property
management services). This has the effect that agencies will no
longer need to establish a separate official account under the FMA
Act, thereby reducing the previous administrative issues involved
with outsiders handling public money.
There have also been recent amendments to the Financial
Management and Accountability Regulations 1997 (Cth)
(FMA Regulations) to reflect the recent
legislative changes and ministerial decisions relating to the
establishment, abolition or renaming of certain prescribed agencies
for the purposes of the FMA Act.
From 1 July 2009, the following agencies are now prescribed
agencies under the FMA Regulations for the purposes of the FMA
Australian Transport Safety Bureau, which was established as a
statutory authority by the Transport Safety Investigation
Amendment Act 2009 (Cth) whose function is to improve safety
and public confidence in aviation, marine and rail transport,
Fair Work Australia, which will replace the Australian
Industrial Relations Commission as the national workplace relations
Office of the Fair Work Ombudsman, and
Australian Office of Financial Management, which is a
specialised agency within the Treasury portfolio responsible for
the management of Australian Government debt.
The amendments also amended the FMA Regulations to remove, as
agencies under the FMA Act, the following:
Dairy Adjustment Authority,
Office of the Workplace Ombudsman, and
Australian Fair Pay Commission Secretariat.
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