LG regulator failing WA councils and communities: auditor

The regulation and supervision of local government in Western Australia need to be more forward-looking, a new report by the state’s auditor-general advises.

The Office of the Auditor-General says that despite a significant local government reform agenda in recent years, the Department of Local Government, Sport and Cultural Industries is not providing efficient and effective regulation and support to the sector.

Moreover, the department’s use of its limited resources is not underpinned by a good understanding of risk and clear objectives for the LG sector.

The OAG report states: “[There] has been an increase in reactive regulation – investigations and inquiries – which has absorbed resources at the expense of preventative earlier interventions such as education, guidance, and monitoring.

“This is not cost-effective, and the Department needs to rebalance its regulatory activities if it is to make a significant contribution to improving good governance in LG entities.

“Not providing timely advice or effective capability-building increases the risk that LG entities will not provide good government and services to their communities.”

The OAG report notes that the department has begun steps to address some of the findings from the audit.