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Auditor-General of New South Wales

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Auditor-General of New South Wales
Margaret Crawford

since April 2016
AppointerThe Governor of New South Wales
Term lengthAppointed for a term of 8 years, and is ineligible for reappointment

The Auditor-General of New South Wales helps the Parliament of New South Wales hold government accountable for its use of public resources.

The Auditor-General is responsible for audits of NSW Government agencies,[1] universities,[2] and NSW local government, and also provides certain assurance services for Commonwealth grants and payments to the State under Commonwealth legislation. The Auditor-General is the head of the Audit Office of New South Wales (AONSW), a statutory authority established under the Public Finance and Audit Act 1983[3] to conduct audits for the Auditor-General.

The Auditor-General is independent of the Government, and is accountable to the Parliament of New South Wales and regularly reports on the audits. Parliament promotes independence by ensuring the Auditor-General and AONSW are not compromised in their roles by:

  • providing that only Parliament, and not the executive government, can remove an Auditor-General
  • mandating the Auditor-General as auditor of public sector agencies
  • precluding the Auditor-General from providing non-audit and assurance services

The Legislative Assembly Public Accounts Committee reviews the appointment of the Auditor-General, prior to the official appointment by the Governor of New South Wales.[4]

The Audit Office of New South Wales

Audit Office of New South Wales
Audit Office of New South Wales

The vision of the Audit Office of New South Wales is Our insights inform and challenge government to improve outcomes for citizens.[5] AONSW is headquartered in the Darling Park office precinct in the Sydney central business district, and is a short walk from Town Hall station.

AONSW comprises four branches:[6]

  • Office of the Auditor-General
  • Financial Audit
  • Performance Audit
  • Corporate Services

Financial Audit and Performance Audit

The Financial Audit and Performance Audit branches conduct financial and performance audits, principally under the Public Finance and Audit Act 1983[7] and the Corporations Act 2001,[8] and examines allegations of serious and substantial waste of public money under the Public Interest Disclosures Act 1994.[9] In 2016, the Local Government Act 1993[10] expanded the Auditor-General's mandate to include financial and performance auditing of NSW local government.

In 2016-17, AONSW completed 426 financial audits of NSW Government agencies and NSW universities, as well as seventeen performance audits.[11] In 2017-18, this increased to 550 financial audits of NSW Government agencies, NSW universities and NSW local councils, and nineteen performance audits,[12] as a result of the mandate to audit NSW local government. The full list of the financial audits and performance audits are included in Appendix Two and Appendix Five of the 2017-18 Annual Report.

Some of the key NSW agencies audited include:

AONSW offers a graduate program for tertiary accounting graduates within the Financial Audit branch. AONSW supports graduates with a range of training and mentoring opportunities, commencing with a two-week induction program, and ongoing structured training throughout the course of the program.[13] Along with other employees, graduates also receive opportunities to participate in secondment opportunities to other branches within the organisation, NSW public sector agencies, or to a Big Four accounting firm.[14]

Office of the Auditor-General

The Office of the Auditor-General is responsible for audit quality and compliance with Australian Auditing Standards, and incorporates the Professional Service Branch responsible for governance matters and disclosures. It has developed a corporate governance model for the NSW public sector, the Governance Lighthouse,[15] reflecting the eight core Australian Securities Exchange (ASX) Corporate Governance Principles across seventeen major points of good governance. The Governance Lighthouse provides practical advice and resources on implementing successful governance in the public sector.

Corporate Services

Corporate Services supports the service delivery branches of AONSW and comprises back-office functions including:

  • Finance
  • Communications and Business Support
  • Information Technology Support
  • Human Resources and Payroll
  • Learning and Development

Legislative Assembly Public Accounts Committee (PAC)

The Auditor-General and the Audit Office of New South Wales work closely with Legislative Assembly Public Accounts Committee. The committee was first established in 1902 to scrutinise the actions of the executive branch of government on behalf of the Legislative Assembly.

The Public Accounts Committee has responsibilities under Part 4 of the Public Finance and Audit Act 1983 to inquire into and report on activities of government that are reported in the Total State Sector Accounts and the accounts of the State's authorities.[16] A key part of committee activity is following up aspects of the Auditor-General's Reports to Parliament. The committee may also receive referrals from ministers, the Legislative Assembly and the Auditor-General to undertake inquiries. The committee may also recommend improvements to the efficiency and effectiveness of government activities.[17]


For more than 185 years, the Audit Office of New South Wales has been assisting the Parliament of New South Wales hold government accountable for its use of public resources. This is done by reporting directly to Parliament on audits of government financial reports and performance.[18]

  • 1824 – William Lithgow was appointed Colonial Auditor-General, to compile and examine the colony's accounts and report on government departments to the Governor.[19]
  • 1855 – The UK Constitution Act 1855 formalised government in New South Wales, and the Auditor-General made a political office and member of the government.
  • 1856 – The Auditor-General ceased to be a political office.[20]
  • 1870 – Powers and duties of the Auditor-General first set in legislation, in the Audit Act 1870.
  • 1902 – Audit Act 1902 prohibited the Auditor-General from being a member of the Executive Council or of parliament.
  • 1929 – Audit (Amendment) Act 1929 changed the tenure of office of the Auditor-General from life to ceasing at 65. Position of Assistant Auditor-General created.
  • 1984 – Public Finance and Audit Act 1983 established the Auditor-General's Office on 6 January 1984.
  • 1989 – Auditor-General's Office declared a statutory body, allowing it to be both more independent and more commercial.
  • 1991 – The Public Finance and Audit Act 1983 expanded the Auditor-General's role to include performance audits, limited tenure to seven years, and prevented acceptance of any other post in the NSW public service.
  • 2001 – Auditor-General's role expanded to reporting on issues of waste, probity and financial judgement.
  • 2004 – Auditor-General given power to employ staff directly, and set wages and conditions.
  • 2013 – Tenure of Auditor-General extended to eight years.
  • 2016 – The Local Government Act 1993 expanded the Auditor-General's mandate to include financial and performance auditing of local councils and council entities

List of Auditors-General of New South Wales

The following individuals have served as Auditors-General of New South Wales.[21]

Order Auditor-General Term start Term end Time in office
1 William Lithgow 8 November 1824 (1824-11-08) 30 April 1852 (1852-04-30) 27 years, 174 days
2 Francis Merewether 1852 1856 3–4 years
3 Bob Nichols 6 June 1856 25 August 1856 80 days
4 Terence Murray 26 August 1856 17 September 1856 22 days
5 William Mayne 1856 1864 7–8 years
6 Christopher Rolleston 1864 1883 18–19 years
7 Edward Rennie 1883 1903 19–20 years
Auditor-General's independence from parliament and government established in 1902
8 John Vernon 1903 1915 11–12 years
9 Frederick Coglan 1915 1928 12–13 years
10 John Spence 1928 1942 13–14 years
11 Edmund Swift 1942 1949 6–7 years
12 William Campbell 1950 1963 12–13 years
13 William Mathieson 1963 1967 3–4 years
14 Victor Cohen 1967 1968 0–1 years
15 Daniel Fairlie 1968 1977 8–9 years
16 William Henry 1977 1980 2–3 years
17 Jack O'Donnell 1980 1985 4–5 years
18 Kenneth Robson 1985 1992 6–7 years
19 Anthony Harris 1992 1999 6–7 years
20 Robert Sendt 1999 2006 6–7 years
21 Peter Achterstraat 2006 2013 6–7 years
22 Grant Hehir 2013 2015 1–2 years
23 Margaret Crawford 2016 current 4–5 years

Margaret Crawford

Margaret Crawford commenced as the Auditor-General of New South Wales in April 2016.

Margaret has over 20 years of experience as a senior executive across many large, complex public sector organisations - local, State and the Commonwealth governments - including the Victorian Department of Human Services, the Australian Taxation Office, the NSW Roads and Traffic Authority and Australia's largest local government, Brisbane City Council. Most recently, before joining the Audit Office, she held the position of Deputy Secretary at the NSW Department of Family and Community Services.

Margaret has worked across a diverse range of sectors, including housing and homelessness, community and disability services, road transport policy and regulation, taxation administration and gaming regulation.


  1. ^ Public Sector: Principal Departments and Other Bodies NSW Archived March 21, 2012, at the Wayback Machine
  2. ^ Charles Sturt University, Macquarie University, Southern Cross University, University of New England, University of New South Wales, University of Newcastle, University of Technology, Sydney, University of Western Sydney, University of Wollongong
  3. ^ Public Finance and Audit Act 1983
  4. ^ NSW Premier media release
  5. ^ "Who we are". Audit Office of New South Wales. 2019. Retrieved 6 July 2019.
  6. ^ "Our structure". Audit Office of New South Wales. 2019. Retrieved 6 July 2019.
  7. ^ Public Finance and Audit Act 1983
  8. ^ Corporations Act 2001
  9. ^ Public Interest Disclosures Act 1994
  10. ^ Local Government Act 1993
  11. ^ "Annual Report 2016/17". Audit Office of New South Wales. 2019. Retrieved 6 July 2019.
  12. ^ "Annual Report 2018/18". Audit Office of New South Wales. 2019. Retrieved 6 July 2019.
  13. ^ "Graduate Program". Audit Office of New South Wales. 2019. Retrieved 6 July 2019.
  14. ^ "Career development". Audit Office of New South Wales. 2019. Retrieved 6 July 2019.
  15. ^ "Governance lighthouse". Audit Office of New South Wales. 2019. Retrieved 6 July 2019.
  16. ^ Public Finance and Audit Act 1983
  17. ^ Public Accounts Committee, NSW Legislature Archived March 24, 2012, at the Wayback Machine
  18. ^ "Our history". Audit Office of New South Wales. 2017.
  19. ^ "Lithgow, William (1784–1864)". Australian Dictionary of Biography. Melbourne University Press. ISSN 1833-7538 – via National Centre of Biography, Australian National University.
  20. ^ "The Legislative Assembly". The Empire. 9 August 1856. p. 5. Retrieved 19 November 2020 – via Trove.
  21. ^ "Our history". Audit Office of New South Wales. 2019. Retrieved 6 July 2019.

External links

This page was last edited on 3 January 2021, at 03:39
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