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There had been little essential change in Australia's form of governance and accompanying conventions of accountability by the 1970's from the form inherited from 19th century Britain. As a consequence, Australian Commonwealth state audit experienced few major difficulties and was largely immune from challenge. This changed when the attention of state audit turned to the management performance of public service administrators. State audit came to experience a level of stress and threat never previously encountered. Using insights from processual analysis as developed by Turner, to demonstrate the pressures on state audit, the paper focuses on the principal events constituting the short life of the new Efficiency Audit Division (BAD) (1978-84) which had been established within the AAO to develop efficiency auditing methods and to carry out efficiency audits. It documents for the first time a level of Executive intrusion in state audit which contradicts the image promoted in Westminster democracies of a robustly independent state auditor and highlights the political nature of state audit.

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