While Western Australian Liberal Dean Smith is currently best known for being the architect of the marriage equality bill that passed through parliament just last night, he has quietly and assiduously worked on another issue all year: Canberra bureaucrats who make the same errors over and over when it comes to the process of delivering billions of dollars in government handouts.

Smith made it a mission for the parliamentary committee he chairs, the innocuously named Joint Committee of Public Accounts and Audit, to go after departments that are found to have committed the same errors across multiple audits by the Australian National Audit Office, which reports to his committee. Between Smith and the Australian National Audit Office (ANAO), under Auditor-General Grant Hehir, there is a diminishing tolerance for bureaucrats offering pro forma responses accepting ANAO recommendations but never following through. The committee has encouraged the ANAO to conduct follow-up audits, and in a series of inquiries has itself followed up departments to check compliance.