LOCAL councils will have to finish their current contracts with external auditors before starting a new regime that checks their books under the oversight of the Office of the Auditor-General.
“The auditor-general has advised that local governments with current external auditing contracts in place should complete these contracts before the changes are introduced,” City of Subiaco acting-chief executive Alan Millard said
They new rules have been introduced so councils’ audits, which check the economics, effectiveness and efficiencies of the authorities’ spending, are conducted at levels consistent with the rest of the public sector.
Mr Millard said the city’s current contract with its auditor would stay until the end of the audit for this financial year.
The new rules in the Local Government Auditing Act 2017 passed Legislative Council on August 28.
Under the legislation, local governments will have to publish their annual reports, and two additional annual audit reports, on their websites.
The Act was introduced after Corruption and Crime Commission investigations into allegations of serious misconduct and corruption in councils, and subsequent recommendations from Parliament’s Public Accounts Committee.
Curtin University Business School lecturer Harj Singh said ratepayers wanted councils to spend wisely, and local governments had been behind the public sector when it came to auditing.
“No-one in their right mind would say the new rules are a bad thing because it increases accountability,” Dr Singh said.
However, the Urban Development Institute of Australia wants the changes to go further and include mandatory performance reporting on planning and contributions to development schemes.