Our History

For more than 180 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. We do this by reporting directly to parliament on our audits of government financial reports and performance.

1824 | William Lithgow appointed Colonial Auditor-General, to compile and examine the colony’s accounts and report on government departments to the Governor.


1855 | The UK Constitution Act 1855 formalised government in New South Wales, and the Auditor-General made a member of the government.


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 (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.


NSW Auditors-General Terms in Office

2006-2013 | Peter Achterstraat

1999-2006 | Robert Sendt

1992-1999 | Anthony Harris

1985-1992 | Kenneth Robson
1980-1985 | Jack O'Donnell
1977-1980 | William Henry
1968-1977 | Daniel Fairlie
1967-1968 | Victor Cohen
1963-1967 | William Mathieson
1950-1963 | William Campbell
1942-1949 | Edmund Swift
1928-1942 | John Spence
1915-1928 | Frederick Coglan
1903-1915 | John Vernon
1883-1903 | Edward Rennie
1864-1883 | Christopher Rolleston
1856-1864 | William Mayne
1856 | Terence Murray
1856 | George Nicholls
1852-1856 | Francis Merewether
1824-1852 | William Lithgow

Our vision

To make the people of New South Wales proud of the work we do.

Our mission

To help parliament hold government accountable for its use of public money.

Our values

Purpose – we have an impact, are accountable and work as a team.

People – we trust and respect others, and have a balanced approach to work.

Professionalism – we are recognised for our independence and integrity and the value we deliver.

Our award-winning annual report

In 2012 we won both a Gold Australasian Reporting Award and Governance Reporting Special Award.