Auditor-General’s overview

Local government: Results of the 2009/10 audits.

As I finalise this report, Parliament’s immediate focus is on the safety and well-being of people in Christchurch. The tragedy of the 22 February earthquake has affected us all. Our thoughts are with those who are affected.

The recent earthquake follows several major events, including the Canterbury earthquake of 4 September, the blizzard that affected Southland's farming community in spring, and the tragedy at the Pike River coal mine on 19 November. In December, I wrote to all local authority chief executives and mayors. In my letter, I acknowledged the important role of local authority leadership and service to people during these times. This role continues as communities recover.

In a change from previous years, this report on the 2009/10 audits of the local government sector has two sections. Section A includes the full results of the 2009/10 audits of local authorities' financial statements. For the first time, we have outlined our observations on the financial performance and position arising out of local authorities' 2009/10 audited financial statements. I intend such observations to be an important and developing part of my future reporting to Parliament.

Section B contains articles that were attached to my December letter to local authority chief executives and mayors. The letter informed them of other matters my Office was involved in during 2010.

During the past year, my Office took part in important first steps in the reform of Auckland's local government. In October, I signed the first audit report for the new Auckland Council. It was pleasing to be able to assure the new, enlarged Auckland community that the Council’s planning document was reasonable. We reported fully on the planning document for Auckland Council in a separate report to Parliament. We will continue to be closely involved in Auckland Council's planning and accountability cycle. Soon, we plan to report separately on the results of the dissolution audits of the former Auckland councils.

We are now working with our audit service providers and local authorities as they prepare their 2012-22 long-term plans. In this third round of audited long-term plans, I expect that improved efficiency from both my auditors and local authorities will make us all better prepared than in the previous rounds.

During the coming year, I will continue to liaise closely with the sector to keep aware of challenges it faces. Where needed, I will work with the sector to meet those challenges.

Signature - LP

Lyn Provost
Controller and Auditor-General

29 March 2011

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