VINCENT council looks set to bring in an independent expert to head up its audit committee.
Like most committees in Perth, Vincent’s financial overseer is headed by its mayor and filled out by councillors, but Cr Ros Harley wants staff to investigate “best practice” and see if independent members (and even a chair) are a better fit.
Across the border, a divided Perth city council last month decided against an independent expert to replace lord mayor Lisa Scaffidi as chair of its audit committee (“Scaffidi to keep audit position,” Voice, September 3, 2016).
“We’re not trying to fix something broken, we’re trying to move to best practice… we value having independent involvement in council activities, so this will work out whether best practice is also having an independent chair,” Cr Harley says.
“Nearly every other capital city municipality does it this way.”
An independent expert can also bring in specific financial skills, since often councils are made of ordinary professions like butchers, bakers, and seven real estate agents.
The motion will be voted on by full council this week.
If a staff investigation finds it’s the best option Cr Harley flagged asking local government minister Tony Simpson to look into legislating it across the board.
The state government is moving to have the auditor general take over responsibility for council audits but the plan is to fast-track the changes to cover the gap in the meantime.
by DAVID BELL