Artist impression of the Corso West at SunCentral, Maroochydore.
Artist impression of the Corso West at SunCentral, Maroochydore. Contributed

Auditors call on council to open books on SunCentral

SUNSHINE Coast Council has been called on to improve transparency into the dealings of its SunCentral Maroochydore CBD development.

Deficiencies in the way privileged access into the council's revenue, expenditure and payroll systems are monitored have also been identified in an audit due to be presented at today's council meeting.

The Queensland Audit Office has recommended the council's wholly-owned company SunCentral post its audited financial statements online.

"We perceive this measure will enable the community to assess the performance of the entity and more generally reflect the fostering of good governance practices in the council," the audit office recommendation read.

The 53-hectare SunCentral development is governed by an independent board of directors and led by CEO John Knaggs.

Mr Knaggs was formerly a CEO of the Sunshine Coast Council between 2008 and 2015 and CEO of Maroochy Shire Council between 2004 and 2008.

Meanwhile, the council has also been chipped by the audit office about six management areas of its internal systems.

The audit office said the council did not log and independently monitor security related transactions and critical changes to its financial systems databases.

It said that could lead to unauthorised changes not being detected.

The audit office also found the council did not monitor the activities of users assigned with privileged access to revenue, expenditure and payroll systems and did not have a centralised register to manage access to its systems by contractors.

As a result, it said there was increased risk that contractors could access the council's systems after finishing their work.

Those deficiencies were listed as ongoing as they had been identified in a similar audit last year.

Auditors also noted the council had agreed with all of their recommendations and was rectifying the issues.

The audit also found there were no significant deficiencies in the council's internal systems and there were no issues with its financial reporting.

A Sunshine Coast Council spokeswoman said the recommendation for SunCentral to post its statements was simply a suggested business improvement opportunity that the council would discuss with the company at a mutually convenient time. 

"As SunCentral Maroochydore Pty Ltd is a corporations law company with an independent board of directors, there is no legislative requirement for the company's audited financial statements to be published," the spokeswoman said.

She said the company was also audited by Queensland Audit Office.

"All costs associated with the Maroochydore city centre project are consolidated within council's statements and disclosed accordingly, including payments to SunCentral Maroochydore Pty Ltd for operational costs. 

"Sunshine Coast Council has received eight consecutive clean audits and there would be few local governments in Queensland able to claim such outstanding results."