Julie Matheson

CFP Business Specialist | Local Government Expert | Community Advocate

Dear Auditor General

This letter to the Auditor General from Ian Ker is priceless.

The State Government’s handling of Royalties for Regions was found wanting by the Auditor General.  There was no project selection criteria nor a business case made that funded projects would achieve long-term benefits.  Sound familiar?  Sounds like the Minister’s unfunded 12 two-page proposals for amalgamation of 30 councils to 15?

You be the judge.  Here’s the letter:

Mr Colin Murphy

Auditor General

State of Western Australia

Dear Mr Murphy

I read with interest reports of your criticism of the WA Government’s management of the Royalties for Regions program – in particular the lack of proper assessment of costs and benefits before committing to specific projects.

One media report states that you found that “the Department of Regional Development didn’t have stringent project selection criteria and did not know if funded projects would achieve long-term benefits”.

I wonder whether your remit as Auditor General, “to scrutinise the public sector for potential instances of wastage, inefficiency or ineffectiveness”, might extend as far as to cover the current local government (so-called) reform process, where the Minister for Local Government has admitted that his proposals were made with no prior development of a business case and, even worse, that the Local Government Advisory Board would investigate the costs and advantages after the decision is made.

In other words, a commitment would be made to spend WA taxpayers’ and local government ratepayers’ money on projects (forced local government amalgamations) without stated selection/assessment criteria and without knowing if the funded projects would achieve long-term benefits.

If the Minister might be beyond your scrutiny, I respectfully suggest that his Department and the Local Government Advisory Board should not be.

I look forward to your response. As I am sure you will appreciate, this is a matter of some urgency, given the current stage of the so-called reform process.

Regards Ian Ker

One comment on “Dear Auditor General

  1. Ian Ker
    July 14, 2014

    Predictably, his response is that he will do nothing. He replied, on 7th July:

    “As your email notes, it is my role to scrutinise the public sector for potential instances of wastage, inefficiency or ineffectiveness, and to report the findings to the Western Australian Parliament. However, it is not my role to assess the decisions of government.
    A common misunderstanding is that the Auditor General can criticise government policy. By convention, the Auditor General will not comment on or criticise government policy as this risks politicising the position and diminishing my perceived independence. However, what I can do is assess whether government policy has been effectively implemented.
    As such, there is no scope for us to look into the decisions by the Minister for Local Government in relation to Local Government reform.”

    This misses the point entirely – my request was about the implementation of policy without either a business case or guaranteed funding. So I responded, on the same day, clarifying this point – see http://ianrker-vincent.blogspot.com.au/2014/07/cop-out-by-auditor-general.html for more

    No reply yet

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This entry was posted on June 27, 2014 by in Amalgamation and tagged , , , .
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