Report highlights: Transport 2021

What the report is about

The results of the Transport cluster agencies’ financial statement audits for the year ended 30 June 2021.

What we found

Unmodified financial statement audit opinions were issued for all Transport cluster agencies. Resolution of issues delayed signing the Transport Asset Holding Entity of NSW (TAHE) until 24 December 2021. Matters relating to TAHE are also reported in the report on State Finances 2021.

Emphasis of Matter - TAHE

An Emphasis of Matter paragraph was included in TAHE's audit opinion to draw attention to uncertainty associated with:

  • future access and licence fees that are subject to re-signed agreements
  • an additional $4.1 billion of funding that is outside the forward estimates period
  • a significant portion of the fair value of TAHE’s non-financial assets is reflected in the terminal value, which is outside the ten-year contract period to 30 June 2031, and the risk that TAHE will not be able to negotiate contract terms to support current projections.

TAHE's transition from RailCorp also changed its valuation of assets to an income approach, resulting in a $20.3 billion decrease to the fair value. The fair value decrease was because the cash flows were not sufficient to support the previous recorded value.

TAHE corrected a misstatement of $1.2 billion relating to the valuation of its assets. This followed significant deliberation on key judgements and assumptions, with TAHE adopting risk assumptions in its valuation that were not in line with comparable benchmarks.

Emphasis of Matter - State Transit Authority of New South Wales

An Emphasis of Matter paragraph was included in the State Transit Authority of NSW's (the Authority) audit opinion to draw attention to the financial statements not prepared on a going concern basis. This was because the NSW Government put the Authority's bus contracts out to competitive tender and accordingly, management assessed the Authority's principal activities are not expected to operate for a full 12 months after 30 June 2021.

The implementation of AASB 1059 ‘Service Concession Arrangements: Grantors’ resulted in a net increase in assets of $23.5 billion across the Transport cluster.

The 2020–21 audits identified six high risk and 45 moderate risk issues across the cluster. Fourteen of the moderate risk issues were repeat issues, including information technology controls around management of user access for key financial systems and payroll processes.

The high risk issues, in addition to those related to TAHE and previously reported in the report on State Finances 2021, include:

  • absence of conflict of declarations related to land acquisition processes at Transport for NSW
  • no evidence of conflict of interest declarations obtained by TAHE from consultants and contractors regarding involvement in other engagements.

What we recommended

TAHE needs to:

  • finalise revised commercial agreements to reflect fees detailed in a Heads of Agreement signed on 18 December 2021
  • prepare robust projections and business plans to support the required rate of return.

NSW Treasury and TAHE should monitor the risk that control of TAHE assets could change in the future.

Transport for NSW needs to significantly improve its processes to ensure all key information is identified and shared with the Audit Office.

Transport agencies should implement a process to ensure conflicts of interest declarations are completed for land acquisitions and applied consistently across the cluster.

Transport agencies should implement a process to capture all contracts and agreements entered to ensure:

  • agencies are aware of contractual obligations
  • financial reporting implications are assessed, particularly with respect to leases, revenue and service concession arrangements.

Fast facts

The Transport cluster plans and delivers infrastructure and integrated services across all modes of transport. This includes road, rail, bus, ferry, light rail, cycling and walking. There are 11 agencies in the cluster.

  • $128b road and maritime system infrastructure assets as at 30 June 2021
  • 100% unqualified audit opinions were issued on agencies 30 June 2021 financial statements
  • 26 monetary misstatements were reported in 2020–21
  • $24.9b rail systems infrastructure assets as at 30 June 2021
  • high risk management letter findings were identified
  • 37% of reported issues were repeat issues 

Further information

Please contact Ian Goodwin, Deputy Auditor-General on 9275 7347 or by email.