Posted September 06, 2019 05:14:22 WA is looking to replace public schools with independent auditors, with the state government also calling on businesses to sign up to a new audit system.
The state government has already been under fire from opposition politicians for failing to hold its annual auditions.
Opposition Leader Scott Morrison said the Government needed to do more to attract and retain auditors.
“If you’re going to be audited, we need to have auditors,” he said.
But Auditor-General Tim Loughnane says WA is still a long way from having an audit system that will attract and keep auditors and ensure children’s education is safe.
Loughnanes audit said WA was a good example of a state where an independent auditor was required to meet requirements of state law.
“[We] don’t have a system that has the kind of standards required by the auditor general, particularly given the scale of the work that’s required to perform audits in WA,” he told 7.30.
Under the current WA Public Accounts Act, auditors are required to spend at least three months each year in the state, and up to 10 days in WA each year, for an initial review.
Auditors report to the Auditor-general.
He said WA had an overall positive reputation for auditor-granting schools and had not had an auditor-general for many years.
I’m still waiting for my first audit report, Loughne said.
“I think that’s something that we need as a state, but I think we also need an auditor who’s actually doing their job.
You’ve got to have somebody that is actually looking at what’s going on.”
Mr Morrison said WA needed an auditor that could meet the auditor-generating responsibilities of the WA Auditor-Generating Authority.
Welfare concerns for children in WA Children’s Minister Lisa Neville said she had been told the auditor would be looking at the welfare of children in the WA school system.
The WA government has been under pressure to scrap the WA Public Schools Audit Act and replace it with a new system, but Premier Colin Barnett has promised an independent audit will replace the Public Accounts Audit Act.
In his first speech on the issue, Mr Barnett said the WA Government would work with the Auditor General’s office and other state agencies to create a new, independent system.
“This is going to provide a level playing field for parents, and provide a competitive and transparent way of assessing outcomes and giving us a level of accountability that is commensurate with the size and the complexity of our public schools system,” he announced.
Mr Barnett said WA’s Auditor-generators would be accountable to parents.
However, the Auditor was criticised for not providing an audit on WA’s health system, the WA Health Board, the health and social services system, and WA’s water supply system.
Under the WA Education Act, all teachers, school administrators and principals are expected to be paid for the work they do.
Parents were also expected to get a free year’s worth of school supplies if they bought a school bag.
Ms Neville said a free school year bag would be a great way to help schools and children, but not an auditor.
It was a difficult balancing act to be a good auditor and not just look after children, she said.
“You want to see that your work is good for kids but also for parents,” she said, adding the WA auditor-generation would not be able to monitor the performance of schools.
‘We’re going the wrong way’The WA Education Minister, Lisa Neville, says she wants the WA schools auditor to look into the quality of education.
“If we don’t get a good audit done, we’re going in the wrong direction,” she told 7:30 on Thursday.
“It’s going to take a lot of work to get the school auditor up to speed on what’s happening in WA schools.”
The auditor-Generation will be responsible for monitoring the performance and progress of schools in WA, including on their financial condition and the impact of funding cuts.
On Thursday, Ms Neville said her office was currently examining the impact on WA schools of a funding cut of up to $2 billion, which had caused significant school closures and reduced enrolments.
She said the school system was in the process of being audited by the Auditor Generating Authority and the WA State Government.
A report is expected to come out later this year.
As part of the audit, the auditor will also be responsible to the State Government for a report on the state’s budget and spending plans for the coming school year.