Report on Local Government 2017 and council data visualisation

20 April 2018

The Auditor-General, Margaret Crawford, released her inaugural report today on the results of statutory financial audits of councils in the local government sector. Unqualified audit opinions were issued on the 2016−17 financial statements of 136 councils.

'I would like to thank councils for their cooperation with the Audit Office during this first full cycle of the new audit arrangements. Local government is a unique sector, passionate about the community and focused on delivering local services that meet citizens' needs,' the Auditor-General said.

The report provides guidance, and includes recommendations to councils and the Office of Local Government, aimed at strengthening financial reporting, asset management and governance and internal controls.

'The quality and timeliness of financial reporting in the local government sector needs to improve,’ the Auditor-General said.

Qualified audit opinions were issued on the 2016−17 financial statements of three councils and a further 22 councils required material adjustments to correct errors in previous audited financial statements. Most of these matters related to the way councils value and account for assets.

Forty of the 140 councils required lodgement extensions past the 31 October 2017 statutory reporting deadline with one council yet to present their 2016−17 financial statements for audit.

'The report will help Parliament understand the common challenges that councils face. It provides points of comparison for councils and signposts matters that will be the focus of future audits. Importantly, this report and the data visualisation that accompanies it, provides comprehensive and accessible information to citizens regarding the management and performance of their councils,' the Auditor-General said.

Further information

For more information, contact Barry Underwood, Director, Office of the Auditor-General, on 9275 7220 or 0403 073 664 and email

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Council data visualisation

To aid access, transparency, and comparison of councils’ financial statement data, we have created a data visualisation as part of the Report on Local Government 2017. The visualisation presents revenue, expense, operating surplus, asset and liability data, along with key financial performance and sustainability indicators for each council. The 2016–17 financial statement data used in the data visualisation tool is summarised in Appendix eight and nine of the Report on Local Government 2017.

The data visualisation also presents minimum, median and maximum values within selected council groupings. While these values aid in comparison and assist further inquiry, a good or bad performance conclusion cannot be drawn from this data alone.

The visualisation excludes financial statement data for four councils due to either an incomplete audit, or where our audit opinion on the councils’ financial statements was modified (qualified).

If you have any technical issues or queries around this visualisation, please email



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