Territory Stories

Annual Report 2017-2018 OmbudsmanNT



Annual Report 2017-2018 OmbudsmanNT

Other title

Tabled paper 934


Tabled Papers for 13th Assembly 2016 - 2020; Tabled Papers; ParliamentNT






Made available by the Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory under Standing Order 240. Where copyright subsists with a third party it remains with the original owner and permission may be required to reuse the material.




Tabled papers

File type




Copyright owner

See publication



Parent handle


Citation address


Page content

29 LITTLE FISH ARE SWEET This report looked at issues relating to the administration of high volume, low value subsidy schemes, and in particular at structures and control measures that can be utilised to ensure that scheme beneficiaries and the Territory community obtain the best value for money out of the scheme. The Northern Territory Pensioner and Carer Concession Scheme (the Scheme) provided concessions or benefits on a large number of transactions to a large number of Territorians. Concessions were provided on utilities (energy, water, sewerage, and garbage), vehicle registration, drivers licences, public transport, travel and spectacles. The concessions were frequently administered with the assistance of the external provider who supplied the relevant good or service. In the case of travel, a travel agent may be involved. In most cases, the provider/agent had direct interaction with the member and provided necessary paperwork directly to the NT Government. The concession in most cases was limited to a relatively low value, so the overall risk of financial loss to the Territory on an individual transaction was therefore low. Regardless of likelihood, the amount of any loss would be limited. However, the involvement of providers and agents who dealt with multiple transactions substantially increased the level of risk to be addressed. I concluded that the risks inherent in particular transactions would vary. Services supplied by Government providers in situations where prices or unit prices were essentially fixed still required monitoring and control. However, in a private sector setting where products and prices were subject to substantial variability, the opportunities for mistakes, misunderstandings and deliberate misconduct increased significantly. I concluded that there should be a particular emphasis on ensuring that scheme structures and internal controls are designed to minimise the potential for errors, misinterpretation and fraud that may compromise the objectives of the scheme. I said it was also important to recognise that an appropriate level of administrative oversight (the much maligned red tape) is essential if the community is to have confidence that a scheme is effective. While the report was produced in the context of the Scheme, I considered it would have relevance to other grant and subsidy schemes across government. No specific recommendations were made, as the approach relating to each scheme will vary. The report discussed relevant principles, available guidance and options for action. The Scheme was subject to a comprehensive review and an extensive public consultation process which resulted in the creation of two complementary schemes and significantly enhanced administrative procedures. My report was also considered by the Department of Treasury and Finance in the development of Treasurers Directions and guidance documents on Fraud Control.