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The Queensland Audit Office

The Queensland Audit Office is the independent auditor of the Queensland public sector.

We conduct financial audits and performance audits to give the public confidence in the reliability of public sector financial statements and operating performance.

Through our audit work and resulting reports to parliament, we make recommendations that promote improvements in service delivery, as well as accountability and transparency. Our audits are not just a compliance activity—we include better ways of doing business in our audit findings, conclusions and recommendations. We take a constructive and collaborative approach to how we engage with our clients.

Our unique position provides us with visibility across the entire public sector of matters impacting performance. Our audit mandate and our independence gives us access to the information we need to develop an evidence-based understanding of operating performance.

Our vision is for better public services for Queenslanders. We strive to work with our clients and use our unique position to achieve this vision.

Latest reports

We produce reports to parliament that contain the results of the financial audits and performance audits we conduct for public sector entities and local governments.

Our reports on the results of our financial audits provide information beyond the individual audit opinions. We include insights on key themes impacting sectors, as well as factors impacting the financial sustainability of the Queensland Government.

Our reports on the results of our performance audits focus on topics of importance to Queensland, examining whether government services have been delivered in a way that is efficient, effective and complies with relevant requirements. We identify and share our insights on best practice.

These reports are tabled in parliament and are accessible to all members of the public.

Audits in progress

This section is about our performance audit program for 2018-21.

We apply a strategic audit planning approach in choosing our audit topics. This involves assessing the challenges, risks, and opportunities facing the public sector, local governments and the community. 

Our legislation—the Auditor-General Act 2009 (our Act)—requires us to prepare a strategic audit plan of the performance audits we propose to conduct over the coming three years.  We update our plan annually, based on our current understanding of the public sector in Queensland.  

2019-20

Investing in vocational education and training

The vocational education and training sector provides skills-based training to assist individuals in finding employment or to help them advance within a current position. Under the Annual Vocational Education Training Investment Plan, the state government has committed $810.7 million to help individuals gain skills that lead to job opportunities and sustainable employment.

The plan is supported by a vocational education and training investment framework that aims to support demand-driven funding arrangements and support disadvantaged learners. It also aims to contribute towards public providers—enabling them to compete in the vocational education and training market.

TAFE Queensland is the state’s largest public provider of vocational education and training. It was established on 1 July 2013 as an independent statutory body under the TAFE Queensland Act 2013. There are other providers of vocational education and training, including universities.

The number of private training providers in the market has expanded, each offering skills-based training across accredited courses. The current vocational education and training model is intended to provide a greater variety of courses for individuals to choose from, while providing successful learning and employment outcomes for students.
 

Audit objective

This audit will examine whether the Department of Employment, Small Business and Training is achieving successful learning and employment outcomes through its public and private vocational education and training providers.

Who we audited

  • Department of Employment, Small Business and Training 
  • TAFE Queensland
  • Central Queensland University
  • Five private VET providers who receive state subsidies
  • Four community-based organisations who receive funding under the Skilling Queenslanders for Work initiative.

Parliamentary committee

Education, Employment and Small Business Committee

Audit status

Tabled
8 August 2019

Managing cyber security risks

A cyber-attack is defined as a deliberate act through cyber space to manipulate, disrupt, deny, degrade, or destroy computers, networks, or the information they contain. In Australia, the responsibility for managing and preventing cyber security threats lies with the federal, state and territory governments. As government delivers more and more services online, the risk of cyber security attacks increases. The Queensland Government has established a cyber security unit with a whole-of-government focus to combat potential threats.

The 2017 Threat Report by the Australian Cyber Security Centre states that cybercrime remains a pervasive threat to Australia’s economic prosperity with growing criminal expertise in targeting specific businesses. It also states that cybercrime will continue to be an attractive option for criminals. According to this report, between July 2016 and June 2017, the Australian Signals Directorate responded to 671 cyber security incidents that were considered serious enough to warrant operational responses. Cyber security is an evolving risk and departments need to be vigilant in assessing and addressing it.

Audit objective

This audit will assess whether agencies effectively manage their cyber security risks.

Who we audited

The Queensland Government Cyber Security Unit within the Queensland Government Chief Information Office. We will also select a sample of public sector agencies, to be advised.

Parliamentary committee

Transport and Public Works Committee

Audit status

To be tabled
Anticipated tabling: July–Sept 2019

Managing the sustainability of local government services

Sustainability is a key factor in determining the longevity of councils all around Australia. Limited federal funding has challenged councils to review their services and ensure their resources are used effectively to get better outcomes for their respective communities.

In managing financial sustainability, it is important that councils are aware of what services they provide, the cost of these services, and how they can improve delivery to achieve cost- efficiency.

Audit objective

This audit will assess whether councils are delivering their services to the community efficiently and economically. 

Who we audited

  • Department of Local Government, Racing and Multicultural Affairs
  • Local councils.

Parliamentary committee

Economics and Governance Committee

Audit status

To be tabled
Anticipated tabling: July–Oct 2019

Managing coal seam gas activities

Coal seam gas (CSG) is an important resource in Queensland with over 90 per cent of Australia’s CSG reserves in the Bowen and Surat basins. In Queensland, $63 billion has been invested to produce liquefied natural gas. Other jurisdictions are reliant on Queensland’s CSG to satisfy their energy demands.

CSG activities are subject to approval processes and regulations to minimise their environmental impact and ensure the safety of their activities. The Department of Natural Resources, Mines and Energy and the Department of Environment and Science are responsible for administering and enforcing CSG sites in Queensland.

There were 1 127 CSG wells operating in Queensland at June 2012, which grew to 5 324 by June 2017. Proactive risk management is required to:

  • protect local water supplies and farming land
  • manage the impact of CSG activities on areas of regional interest
  • provide fair conditions for landholders
  • ensure the health and safety for all personnel.

Audit objective

This audit will assess how well entities regulate and manage Queensland's coal seam gas activities and environmental obligations, to ensure a safe, efficient and viable industry.

Who we might audit

  • Department of Environment and Science
  • Department of Natural Resources, Mines and Energy
  • Gasfields Commission Queensland.

Parliamentary committee

State Development, Natural Resources and Agricultural Industry Development Committee

Audit status

In progress
Anticipated tabling: Aug–Nov 2019
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Managing the State Penalties Enforcement Registry ICT project

In March 2019, the Queensland Under Treasurer referred concerns to the Auditor-General about the delivery of the SPER ICT project. This project forms part of a broader transformation program of work—the SPER Business Transformation Program.

Under a new SPER business model, SPER will be an in-house debt collection agency that pursues outstanding debt and enables hardship debtors to better discharge their penalty debt. SPER’s new business processes require the support of a new ICT system. In March 2016, SPER entered into a contract with a vendor to provide the ICT services and system implementation.

The Auditor-General has agreed to conduct a performance audit focused on the effectiveness of the governance of the SPER ICT project delivery.

Audit objective

This audit will assess whether the State Penalties Enforcement Registry (SPER) ICT project has been governed effectively.

Who we might audit

  • Queensland Treasury

Parliamentary committee

Economics and Governance Committee

Audit status

In progress
Anticipated tabling: Oct–Dec 2019
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Addressing mine dust lung disease

Mine workers are at risk of developing a range of occupational mine dust lung diseases. Disease is caused by long-term exposure to high concentrations of respirable dust, generated during mining and quarrying activities. They include a range of occupational lung conditions including:

  • coal workers’ pneumoconiosis
  • chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
  • silicosis
  • asbestosis.

These diseases are usually found in workers who have had many years of exposure to high concentrations of respirable mineral dust. The diseases may take several years to develop.

Coal workers’ pneumoconiosis is the most commonly known form of mine dust lung disease. It is commonly referred to as ‘black lung disease’. Coal workers’ pneumoconiosis was thought to have been eradicated in Queensland.

The first case of the disease reported to the Department of Natural Resources, Mines and Energy was in May 2015, despite a diagnosed case in 2006 (there was no reporting requirements in 2006 for diagnosed cases). Between May 2015 and 31 December 2018, 33 confirmed cases of coal workers’ pneumoconiosis were reported to the Department of Natural Resources, Mines and Energy.

Following the acknowledgement of coal workers’ pneumoconiosis in 2015, the Queensland Government commissioned an independent review by the Monash University Centre for Occupational and Environmental Health, in collaboration with the University of Illinois at Chicago (the Monash Review). In July 2016, the Monash University Centre for Occupational and Environmental Health completed its review and made 18 recommendations, all of which were supported by the government.

Following the Monash Review, on 15 September 2016, Queensland Parliament established the Coal Workers’ Pneumoconiosis Select Committee to inquire into the re-identification of coal workers’ pneumoconiosis. 

The initial terms of reference focused on the re-identification of coal workers’ pneumoconiosis amongst mine workers in Queensland. This was extended on 23 March 2017 to include the end-to-end production of coal.

The committee tabled five reports in total, Reports 2 and 4 are relevant to this audit. Report 1 was an interim report with no recommendations made. Report No.3 made one recommendation regarding the exposure draft of the Mine Safety and Health Authority Bill 2017 while Report No.5 did not have any further recommendations.

Audit objective

This audit will examine how effectively public sector entities have implemented recommendations aimed at reducing the risk and occurrence of mine dust lung disease.

The audit will focus on recommendations from:

  • Monash Centre for Occupational and Environmental Health, Review of Respiratory Component of the Coal Mine Workers’ Health Scheme, July 2016
  • Coal Workers’ Pneumoconiosis Select Committee reports:
    • Report No. 2, Inquiry into the re-identification of Coal Workers' Pneumoconiosis in Queensland, May 2017
    • Report No. 4, Inquiry into occupational respirable dust issues, September 2017.

Who we might audit

  • Department of Natural Resources, Mines and Energy
  • Office of Industrial Relations
  • Department of Education
  • Department of Health
  • Department of Environment and Science
  • Department of State Development, Manufacturing, Infrastructure and Planning.

Parliamentary committee

State Development, Natural Resources and Agricultural Industry Development Committee

Audit status

In progress
Anticipated tabling: Aug–Oct 2019

Queensland family support and child protection system

In response to the Queensland Child Protection Commission of Inquiry, the Queensland Government is implementing a new child and family support system over the next 10 years. It is intended to have a greater focus on supporting families in providing a safe and secure home for their children.

This response reinforces that parents and families are responsible for the care and safety of their children, with the government's role being to support parents and families by providing the right services at the right time for those in need. Implementing the reforms will require a fundamental shift in the way government agencies, child safety professionals, and community organisations work with vulnerable families, and with each other.

The Queensland Government is investing $406 million over five years from 2014–15 to 2018–19 to better support the state’s most vulnerable families and children.
 

Audit objective

The objective of this audit is to assess how effectively Queensland government agencies work together for the safety and wellbeing of Queensland children.

Who we might audit

  • Department of Child Safety, Youth and Women
  • Queensland Family and Child Commission
  • Queensland Police Service
  • Department of Education
  • Department of Health
  • Department of the Premier and Cabinet
  • Office of the Public Guardian.

Parliamentary committee

Health, Communities, Disability Services and Domestic and Family Violence Prevention Committee

Audit status

In progress
Anticipated tabling: Oct–Dec 2019
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Evaluating major infrastructure projects

The quality of infrastructure investment decisions correlates with how successful a project is and how it will have the desired economic and social impact on the state. It is critical for the state government to effectively assess investment decisions to ensure they are sound, will achieve economic benefits and value-for-money, and will ultimately deliver a positive outcome.

Building Queensland was established as an independent statutory body on 3 December 2015 under the Building Queensland Act 2015. Building Queensland’s role is to lead and assist with developing robust business cases and provide infrastructure advisory to government. These functions are critical components of the government’s plans to improve infrastructure planning and the assessment of major infrastructure proposals.

Building Queensland has developed a Business Case Development Framework to assist government agencies with the development of major infrastructure proposals. The guidance supplements the Project Assessment Framework and provides detailed advice on how to develop a robust business case.

Audit objective

This audit will examine whether Building Queensland is effectively and efficiently leading and/or assisting agencies to deliver robust business cases for major infrastructure projects and providing agencies with expert advice about infrastructure.

Who we might audit

  • Building Queensland
  • Department of State Development, Manufacturing, Infrastructure and Planning
  • Department of Transport and Main Roads
  • Department of Education
  • Cross River Rail Authority
  • Queensland Corrective Services.

Parliamentary committee

State Development, Natural Resources and Agricultural Industry Development Committee

Audit status

In progress
Anticipated tabling: Oct–Dec 2019
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Energy: 2018–19 results of financial audits

In Queensland, most electricity is generated, transmitted, and distributed by state government-owned corporations and controlled entities. These include CS Energy, Stanwell, Powerlink, Energy Queensland, Ergon Energy, and 30 subsidiaries.

CS Energy and Stanwell are electricity generators. They produce electricity and sell into the National Electricity Market. Powerlink transmits electricity from generators to Energy Queensland, the distributor. Energy Queensland then distributes electricity from the transmission network to consumers. From there, electricity retailers purchase and sell electricity to households and businesses.

Audit objective

This audit summarises our financial audit results of the Queensland Government’s energy entities for 2018–19.

Who we might audit

State government owned corporations and controlled energy entities. These included CS Energy, Stanwell, Powerlink, Energy Queensland, Ergon Energy, and 30 subsidiaries.

Parliamentary committee

State Development, Natural Resources and Agricultural Industry Development Committee

Audit status

Planned
Anticipated tabling: to be advised

Contributions closed

Water: 2018–19 results of financial audits

In Queensland, water is primarily used by households, agriculture, mining, electricity generation, tourism, and manufacturing industries. Queensland’s state and local government owned water entities provide water throughout the state, and comprise bulk water suppliers, distributor-retailers, local governments, and smaller water boards.

Seqwater sells treated bulk water to local council regions within South East Queensland. This water is sold either directly to councils or through Distributor-Retailer Authorities (Unitywater and Queensland Urban Utilities).

Outside of South East Queensland, SunWater operates much of the bulk water infrastructure that supplies irrigators and industrial customers. For retail customers, water is sourced, treated and distributed by local government owned infrastructure (water boards).

Audit objective

This audit summarises our financial audit results of state and local government owned water entities, and two controlled entities for 2018–19.

Who we might audit

The six main state and local government owned water entities, and two controlled entities. These included Seqwater, SunWater, Gladstone Area Water Board, Mount Isa Water Board, Queensland Urban Utilities, and Unitywater.

Parliamentary committee

State Development, Natural Resources and Agricultural Industry Development Committee

Audit status

Planned
Anticipated tabling: to be advised

Contributions closed

Resources

Careers

As an integrity office, we provide independent, professional audit services to public sector entities on behalf of the Parliament and Queenslanders.

Our values are vitally important to how we work – we engage with purpose, we challenge ourselves, we deliver on our commitments, and we care about people; and we are uniquely positioned to operate across the entire Queensland public sector for the public good.

As part of our strategy, we invest in our people to be the best in their field and have a specialist graduate program with opportunities in the areas of financial audit, performance audit and information systems audit. As a QAO team member, you are offered professional training, personalised development and great career opportunities.