Canning Times

Local government auditing standards were raised by law last week to levels more consistent with the public sector.

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

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

“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 would now need to generate key performance indicators resulting in two annual reports.

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

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

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 (UDIA WA) called for the changes to go further and wants mandatory performance reporting on planning matters and development contribution schemes.