Lower costs and enhanced financial accountability for Local Government. A noble 2nd area of reform in the Government’s program of Local Government Reform.
The Government went to the people in March of last year with a promise to lower the cost of running local governments. A noble ambition.
Eleven recommendations have been put to you and I for comment. Many I don’t have a problem with.
Indeed, Unley already voluntarily does what is proposed in the first four recommendations. That includes having more independent members on the committee than elected members. It includes those independent members having due qualifications to sit on the committee. Furthermore, our committee is already charged as an audit and “risk” committee.
As a metropolitan Council we don’t have much trouble with doing this. I can imagine however regional councils may have trouble due to a lack of suitably qualified candidates.
What I do have a problem with is requiring the Auditor General to oversight of all Council Audits.
This I see as one of those measures I noted in my first blog post of this series that will add to the cost of local government. Significantly.
The Auditor General has got powers of investigation over the industry already. Powers he can use at his discretion. Similarly, like the powers he used recently to oversee the workings of the Brownhill Creek Project.
To have oversight over all 68 councils each year is an overkill. The AG would have to resource this work. He would likely direct the work to the same organisations/people conducting the audits on behalf of councils now.
As the AG would be responsible for the work, he would have to oversee the work. This would require increased resourcing. This adds another layer of administration, which must add to the cost of reporting and therefore to the industry.
Doubts about the adequacy of some current or past auditing contracts would be better served by the Government setting up a register of accredited auditors. Councils can seek their auditor from this list. Restricting auditors to working more than a set number of successive years with a given council would also be worth considering.