The 16 Qld councils at risk of becoming financially unstable
THERE are 16 Queensland councils at risk of becoming financially unsustainable after consistently incurring substantial operating losses over four years.
Ten of those are indigenous councils but the number also includes the huge Gold Coast council and the Southern Downs and Western Downs councils in the state's south.
A further 18 councils are at moderate risk of becoming financially unsustainable after recording consistent operating losses, significant debt levels or insufficient spending on asset maintenance and renewal.
Auditor-General Andrew Greaves, in a document tabled in Queensland Parliament on Tuesday, took the opportunity to slam internal audit processes within councils and the attitudes to them.
He did note some internal controls were compromised because personnel and finances were diverted to deal with major projects such as restoration works resulting from natural disasters and de-amalgamation.
"Many councils continue to regard their internal audit functions as a legislative compliance burden, rather than as a critical component of control assurance required to give them and their communities greater confidence about the efficient, effective and economical use of public monies," he said.
"As a result, internal audit services across the sector are not used effectively to assess and, where possible, mitigate strategic, financial, or operational risks."
Local Government Minister David Crusifulli said the results clearly showed work must be done.
He said the report showed it did not matter about the location or size of the council, rather it was about leadership and making tough decisions.
"It's about on par with last year," he said.
"There are some indigenous councils that are doing a fantastic job, there are some larger councils that are not, and vice versa.
"There is, without a shadow of a doubt, challenges that every level of government faces at the moment and that challenge is balancing expenditure with your revenue.
"If you're prepared to make the tough decisions and balance your books, it can be done.
"There is no doubt that an internal audit function should not be looked at as just ticking a box and going through the motions.
"It is an opportunity to get a council working properly."
HIGH RISK COUNCILS
- Gold Coast
- Lockhart River
- Northern Peninsula Area
- Palm Island
- Southern Downs
- Torres Strait Island
- Western Downs