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Auditing in challenging times

“The Canterbury earthquakes will significantly influence the focus of aspects of our work for years to come,” says Scott Tobin, an Audit Director based in Audit New Zealand’s Christchurch office.

Christchurch

“The Canterbury earthquakes will significantly influence the focus of aspects of our work for years to come,” says Scott Tobin, an Audit Director based in Audit New Zealand’s Christchurch office.

Scott should know. He led the team delivering audit assurance to several public entities in Canterbury after the devastating quakes of 2010 and 2011.

“The 22 February 2011 quake claimed 185 lives,” Scott says. “It destroyed Christchurch’s CBD, left thousands of homes uninhabitable, and many thousands more needing repair.”

The earthquakes severely damaged a lot of public infrastructure, including buildings, roads, power cables, water pipes, and sewerage facilities. The extent of the damage and disruption to public services raised complex issues for public entities trying to value infrastructure, assess the cost of damage, and deal with insurance and re-insurance of repaired or replaced assets.

Some public entities lost their records in the earthquakes. Others had to change their normal processes or quickly spend a lot of public money to restore services or meet new needs.

“Our role was to work with the public entities we audit to come up with practical and effective solutions to accounting and auditing matters resulting from the earthquakes. This allowed the entities to quickly do what they needed to do. It also allowed us to assure the Government and the public that the processes used were as sound and as low-risk as possible,” Scott says.

Audit New Zealand’s approach has been useful for clients such as the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority (CERA), he adds.

“CERA has a massive task leading the recovery and rebuild. It needed to prepare responses to complex matters, such as assessing and demolishing buildings, quickly and effectively. We’ve met regularly with CERA about procurement, financial and non-financial reporting, and property sale and purchasing processes, so we can provide assurance about how effectively and efficiently it is using public funds.”

“Our audits have got a lot more complex and challenging,” Scott says. “We need to recognise that people and organisations are still affected by the earthquakes in different ways.”

Find out more about Scott.

Page last updated: 16 October 2013