Auditor-General of New South Wales

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Auditor-General of New South Wales
Grant Hehir

since 2013
Appointer The Governor of New South Wales
Term length Appointed for a term of 8 years, and is not eligible for reappointment
Formation 1824

The Auditor-General of New South Wales helps the Parliament of New South Wales hold government accountable for its use of public resources.

The Auditor-General is responsible for audits of NSW Government agencies[1] and universities,[2] and also provides certain assurance services for Commonwealth grants and payments to the State under Commonwealth legislation.

The Auditor-General is accountable to the Parliament of New South Wales and regularly reports on the audits.

Grant Hehir was appointed the Auditor–General of New South Wales on 5 November 2013. Before joining the Audit Office of New South Wales, he was Secretary of the Victorian Department of Treasury and Finance from 2006, and was Secretary of the Department of Education and Training from May 2003 to 2006. As Secretary of the Department of Treasury and Finance, he led the department, providing advice on economic and financial policy and resource allocation decisions.

Mr Hehir also worked in the Federal Department of Finance and Administration for several years.

The Role of the Audit Office of New South Wales[edit]

The Audit Office of New South Wales is a statutory authority established under the Public Finance and Audit Act 1983[3] to conduct audits for the Auditor-General.

The Audit Office conducts financial and performance audits, principally under the Public Finance and Audit Act 1983[4] and the Corporations Act 2001,[5] and examines allegations of serious and substantial waste of public money under the Public Interest Disclosures Act 1994.[6]

In 2010-11, the Audit Office completed 472 financial audits of NSW Government agencies and universities, as well as twelve performance audits.[7] For the full list of the 472 financial audits and 12 performance audits, see Appendices Two and Five of the Audit Office of New South Wales 2010-11 Annual Report.

Some of the key agencies audited include the NSW Department of Transport, Railcorp, Roads and Maritime Services, the Ministry of Health, the Department of Education and Communities, the Department of Attorney General and Justice, the Department of Premier and Cabinet, the Department of Finance and Services, Department of Trade and Investment, Regional Infrastructure and Services, the Department of Family and Community Services and NSW Treasury.

Principal Legislation[edit]

The Auditor-General and the Audit Office of New South Wales operate under the Public Finance and Audit Act 1983.[8] The most recent significant change to this legislation was in 2004, giving the Auditor-General the power to employ staff directly.

Legislative Assembly Public Accounts Committee (PAC)[edit]

The Auditor-General and the Audit Office of New South Wales work closely with Legislative Assembly Public Accounts Committee.

The committee was first established in 1902 to scrutinise the actions of the executive branch of government on behalf of the Legislative Assembly.

A key part of committee activity is following up aspects of the Auditor-General’s Reports to Parliament. The committee may also receive referrals from ministers, the Legislative Assembly and the Auditor-General to undertake inquiries.

The Public Accounts Committee has responsibilities under Part 4 of the Public Finance and Audit Act 1983 to inquire into and report on activities of government that are reported in the Total State Sector Accounts and the accounts of the State’s authorities.[9]

The committee recommends improvements to the efficiency and effectiveness of government activities.[10]

Governance in the Public Sector[edit]

The Auditor-General of New South Wales has developed a corporate governance model for the public sector - the Governance Lighthouse.[11]

Public sector governance is about shining a light on what agenices and government are doing and encourages agencies to better meet their obligations to the taxpayer and public. The lighthouse is there to shine a light. The purpose of the light is varied. Sometimes it is a warning, sometimes it is to attract attention, and sometimes it is there to guide.


For more than 185 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. This is done by reporting directly to parliament on audits of government financial reports and performance.[12]

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.

List of Auditors-General of New South Wales[edit]


Auditor-General Appointed Departed
Grant Hehir 2013 -
Peter Achterstraat 2006 2013
Robert Sendt 1999 2006
Anthony Harris 1992 1999
Kenneth Robson 1985 1992
Jack O'Donnell 1980 1985
William Henry 1977 1980
Daniel Fairlie 1968 1977
Victor Cohen 1967 1968
William Mathieson 1963 1967
William Campbell 1950 1963
Edmund Swift 1942 1949
John Spence 1928 1942
Frederick Coglan 1915 1928
John Vernon 1903 1915
Edward Rennie 1883 1903
Christopher Rolleston 1864 1883
William Mayne 1856 1864
Terence Aubrey Murray 1856 1856
George Nichols 1856 1856
Francis Merewether 1852 1856
William Lithgow 1824 1852


External links[edit]