Auditor-General's inquiry into the Plumbers, Gasfitters and Drainlayers Board

17 November 2008

The Auditor-General has decided to inquire into how the Plumbers, Gasfitters and Drainlayers Board (the Board) has carried out its registration and licensing functions, and other related activities. This document sets out the terms of reference for this inquiry.


A range of concerns have been raised with the Auditor-General, with Ministers, and with Parliament in recent years about the way in which the Board carries out its functions. The Auditor-General has been asked to review specific aspects of the Board's activities several times since 2000, resulting in advice at different times to the Board, Ministers, and the Regulations Review Committee of Parliament.

In 2006 the Minister for Tertiary Education commissioned an independent review into relationships in the industry with a particular focus on training and entry qualifications, which resulted in a number of recommendations for change. In September 2008, the Minister of Building and Construction asked the Auditor-General to investigate concerns that have been raised with him about how the Board has carried out its registration and licensing functions.

The Auditor-General has made preliminary enquiries into these matters and has decided that an inquiry is warranted, to provide assurance to Parliament and to the public about the way the Board is operating and to assess progress with implementation of changes.

The inquiry

The inquiry will examine the extent to which the Board has appropriate policies, procedures, and practices in place for:

  1. setting examinations for people wishing to become plumbers and gasfitters;
  2. registering and licensing plumbers and gasfitters;
  3. assessing applicants from overseas who want to be registered; and
  4. the supervision of plumbers and gasfitters who are required to work under the direction of a craftsman plumber or gasfitter.

The inquiry will also consider any other matters that the Auditor-General considers it desirable to report on.

The Auditor-General will decide on the appropriate manner in which to report the findings once the inquiry has been completed.

Our mandate

The Board is a public entity and so falls within the Auditor-General's statutory mandate.

The inquiry will be conducted under sections 16(1) and 18(1) of the Public Audit Act 2001:

Section 16 - Performance audit

(1) The Auditor-General may at any time examine -

  1. the extent to which a public entity is carrying out its activities effectively and efficiently:
  2. a public entity's compliance with its statutory obligations:
  3. any act or omission of a public entity, in order to determine whether waste has resulted or may have resulted or may result:
  4. any act or omission showing or appearing to show a lack of probity or financial prudence by a public entity or 1 or more of its members, office holders, and employees.

Section 18 - Inquiries by Auditor-General

(1) The Auditor-General may inquire, either on request or on the Auditor-General's own initiative, into any matter concerning a public entity's use of its resources.

Contact for enquiries

Nicola White, Assistant Auditor-General, Legal
Telephone (04) 917 1500

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