Australian News

AUSTRALIA QAO REPORT: Queensland Councils discover $1.3 billion in assets they didn’t know they owned


AceNewsDesk – Vast stretches of forgotten roads are being neglected due to administrative blunders, according to the Queensland Audit Office (QAO).


Ace Press News From Cutting Room Floor: Published: Nov.16: 2023: ABC Brisbane News: TELEGRAM Ace Daily News Link

A man grimly stares at the camera under a beautiful arch
MP Robbie Katter says the road conditions in his electorate are a disgrace.( ABC News: Kenji Sato )none

The latest auditor’s report found that over the past five years Queensland councils had discovered $1.3 billion worth of “found assets” that they did not realise they owned.

QAO senior director Sri Narasimhan said the frequency of the errors were signs of systemic failures in asset management.

“Isolated instances of found assets are not a cause of concern,” he said.

“However, repeated instances indicate a fundamental problem with an entity’s internal controls.”

The report notes only 9.6 per cent of Queensland councils met the minimum international standards of asset management.

In 2021 Brisbane City Council discovered $17 million in unaccounted-for assets.

A council spokesperson said they had since updated their systems.

“An upgraded asset management system allowed council infrastructure, such as road surface, earthworks, footpaths, and kerb and channel, to be defined at a more granular level, particularly where it interfaces with Queensland government assets,” the spokesperson said.

In that same period, Central Highlands Regional Council (CHRC) found $32.5 million worth of footpaths, pipes, culverts, and floodways that they had owned for 13 years without realising it.

Council documents showed the assets previously belonged to the former Duaringa Shire Council before it merged with Central Highlands Regional Council in 2008.

CHRC was contacted for comment.

Council confusion

A Grattan Institute report found that a quarter of councils did not know how many roads or bridges they owned within a 10 per cent margin of error.

“It is very difficult to effectively manage an asset that you don’t even know you have,” the report stated.

“Many councils’ asset management practices are far from perfect, but a number of headwinds prevent them from doing better.”

This included a lack of funding, excessive state government regulation, and skill shortages, with 90 per cent facing recruitment difficulties.

The report found half of remote councils did not know how many roads or bridges they had, and more than 40 per cent did not accurately know the conditions of their own roads.

It noted that remote roads were the most underfunded.

A long truck train driving on a highway blue
Mr Katter says the stretch of Flinders Highway in his electorate is an “embarrassment”.(Supplied: Emerald Carrying)

Traeger MP Robbie Katter told ABC Radio Brisbane the Grattan Institute’s findings were unsurprising.

Mr Katter said the roads in his remote electorate were in a disgraceful condition.

He said pothole-ridden freight roads were not prepared for the new rare earth mineral mines and renewable energy projects that were planned for the region.

“Things are falling apart at the seams out there in the regions,” Mr Katter said.

“I’m getting complaints from the mayors that the Flinders Highway’s getting ripped to buggery and it’s in horrible condition, probably the worst it’s ever been.”

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