Shortage of auditors affecting when some audits can be completed

6 July 2021: There is a bill before the House to extend the time frames for audits of Crown entities with end-of-year balance dates of 30 June, and annual reporting requirements of local authorities and council-controlled organisations.

The Auditor-General supports the legislation currently before Parliament to extend statutory reporting time frames by two months for Crown entities, local authorities, and council-controlled organisations with 30 June 2021 balance dates. 

There is a shortage of auditors across New Zealand and Australia. Normally, the audit profession relies on bringing in auditors from overseas to manage the workload at this time of the year. With border restrictions in place, there is a limited supply of auditors in both the public and private sectors. Compounding this, there are auditor retention challenges. A tight labour market for qualified finance staff means that auditors are being actively sought for other positions.

The Financial Markets Authority has already extended the reporting deadline for Financial Market Conduct entities in response to the shortage of auditors.

Statutory deadlines are an important component of our public accountability system. With a two-month deadline extension, we expect that all 30 June 2021 audits will be able to be completed by the end of this calendar year without compromising audit quality or breaching statutory deadlines.

If Parliament decides to move statutory deadlines, this will affect only some public organisations. We will allocate audit resources to ensure that larger and more significant audits are completed first. Auditors will engage directly with affected public organisations once Parliament has considered the proposed legislative changes.