Bid to extend audit powers
North West Central Greens candidate Carol Green is calling for reform to the way in which local government performance is reviewed.
Ms Green said the Greens were seeking an amendment to the WA Local Government Act to extend the powers of the WA Auditor-General, responsible for auditing the finances and activities of most of the WA public sector, to assess the performance of councils rather than the Local Government Minister.
She said the proposal had been sparked by resident concerns with some councils within the North West Central area.
“There’s been some long-standing issues from residents with concerns to do with a Shire in this area, and because of it being longstanding I understand that my colleague Robin Chapple has raised the concern with the Minister for Local Government on several occasions,” Ms Green said.
“It’s felt generally that concerns are not being taken seriously enough, and that in view of the length of time that it takes for anything to be done it might be better if the Auditor General, who carries out this sort of work all the time, might be better qualified to carry it out for local government as well.
“The Auditor-General has the responsibility of auditing and monitoring all government agencies, and the Greens would like to see this extended to local government.”
The State government introduced a Local Government Amendment (Auditing) Bill in August last year aiming to improve accountability and transparency in the sector, but it has not yet been passed.
Ms Green said a legislative change would mean reports were independent rather than politicised by whoever was in government, and allow local government issues to be promptly dealt with before they caused further community problems.
“Increasing the powers of the Auditor-General to include local government takes the power out of the minister’s hands and it ensures that the process is completely independent, therefore it depoliticises the process entirely,” she said.
“It just would seem that approaching it in this way is a more appropriate way to deal with concerns about any Shire that would also remain very independent of any sitting government.”