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Audit office finds taxpayers' money misspent

Extract from Australian Broadcasting Corporation - ABC Online, on 19 January 2005

The Australian National Audit Office has found 11 federal bodies have broken the law by investing more than $500 million of public money without proper authorisation.

The auditor-general particularly criticised the Indigenous Land Fund, operated by ATSIC, saying it breached the constitution by investing up to $480,000 in unauthorised projects last year.

The auditor-general also says the Department of Veterans Affairs placed $56 million in "non-compliant" trusts.

Federal Finance Minister Nick Minchin says the breaches did not result in any loss of public funds.

"No agency has lost any money," he said.

"The investments they had made were very low risk but they've got to be brought into compliance with the act.

"We have a very transparent system, we've been responsible for ensuring that we have a transparent system."

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