City of Vincent welcomes change to local govt auditing standards

City of Vincent welcomes change to local govt auditing standards

LOCAL government auditing standards were raised, by law, last month to levels more consistent with the public sector.

Under the new laws, the Office of the Auditor General will be involved in audits, and local government will need to show they are spending money with economy, effectiveness and efficiency.

City of Vincent acting chief executive Mick Quirk welcomed the move, saying it was “likely to improve public confidence in the sector overall”.

“The announcement has long been expected and aligns with the City’s position of raising standards of transparency and accountability within the sector,” he said.

Under the legislation, local governments will be required to publish their annual reports including audit reports on their websites.

Mr Quirk said the City had been publishing its annual reports including financial position on the web since 1999.

“In addition to its mandatory audit obligations, the City runs an annual internal audit program,” he said.

“The focus of the internal audit program varies from year to year but includes compliance with legislation and the effectiveness of the City’s programs.

“In late December 2016, the City produced a report on Audit Committee Best Practice then adopted a number of its recommendations including the appointment of independent, external members on to its Audit Committee – a move intended to enhance the level of oversight over the City’s operations to be in line with best practice.”

Curtin University Business School lecturer Harj Singh said ratepayers were saying it was not enough to spend accurately but also wisely.

“No one in their right mind would say this is a bad thing because it increases accountability,” Dr Singh said.

He said local governments had always lagged way behind the public sector in this area.

Councils will now need to generate Key Performance Indicators resulting in two annual reports.

Local Government Minister David Templeman welcomed the passage of the Local Government Auditing Bill 2017 through the Legislative Council on Monday, August 28.

The legislation follows recent investigations by the Corruption and Crime Commission over allegations of serious misconduct and corruption.

It also responds to recommendations made by Parliament’s Public Accounts Committee.

The Urban Development Institute of Australia called for the changes to go further, and wants mandatory performance reporting on planning matters and Development Contribution Schemes.

City of Perth has been contacted for comment.

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