The WA Government has introduced new legislation into State Parliament that will extend the auditor general’s powers to audit local government councils and provide independent oversight of the sector.
The Local Government Amendment (Auditing) Bill 2017 will raise the standard of accountability for local governments to a level more consistent with public sector departments and agencies and other jurisdictions.
The legislation follows recent Corruption and Crime Commission investigations into a number of local governments for allegations of serious misconduct and corruption, including the Dowerin and Exmouth corruption cases.
It also responds to recommendations made by the Legislative Assembly Public Accounts Committee.
Ratepayers will have improved access to an independent assessment of their council’s financial position as local governments will be required to publish their annual reports including audit report on their website.
The legislation also introduces a new category of audits known as performance audits that will examine the economy, efficiency and effectiveness of programs and organisations, including compliance with legislative provisions and internal policies.
Local Government Minister David Templeman said this legislation is long overdue.
“(The Legislation) will address issues concerning the lack of accountability and transparency in some local governments,” he said.
“There is absolutely no reason why local governments should not have the same accountability standards as State Government departments and agencies. This legislation brings them in line with the rest of the public service and other jurisdictions.
“It will enable ratepayers to hold their councils to greater account and better protect community interests and funds.”