Audit committee rules tightened

Latrobe City Council has moved to strengthen the rules that guide its Audit Committee, by adopting a new charter.

The review of the Audit Committee Charter follows the appointment of new members to the committee in July last year. It is made up of two councillors and three external members who will meet four times a year.

Mayor Dale Harriman said the new charter had been benchmarked against best practice standards and other councils.

“It’s a lot tighter and it’s a lot more high-level document.”

Cr Harriman said the new audit committee would take a “fresh set of eyes to what needs to be done to avoid risk to ratepayers’ money”.

“They meet to discuss the financial dealings of the council and to approve budgets, to approve projects, to make sure we’re getting best the value,” he said.

“They will also do random checks on accounts and departments.

“I think under old guidelines they didn’t go into specifics, they looked at department budgets and made sure numbers added up, I think this one will make sure they delve down a bit further. You need to be ahead of what’s happening, not catch up to what’s happening.”

The previous guidelines only required two external people to be part of the committee and it was “preferable” at least one member held “financial knowledge”.

Under the new charter, at least one member is required to be a member of CPA Australia, the Institute of Chartered Accountants Australia, a graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors and/or the Institute of Internal Auditors.

Sections on confidentiality and conflict of interest have been added to the charter, outlining members’ responsibilities in handling confidential information and disclosing conflicts of interest.

The chair of the committee is now required to attend a council meeting annually and present the operations of the committee of the previous year.

Committee members are Cr Darrell White, Cr Michael Rossiter, Roma O’Callaghan*, Bev Excel and Joanne Booth.

Their terms will run for three years. A member can serve no more than two terms.

*Roma O’Callaghan is no relation to Cr Kellie O’Callaghan.