Spat over Eddy Sarroff?s suitability for audit role

By YVONNE McLEAN

SPARKS flew at last week's Gold Coast city Council debate on the appointment of members to the audit committee to work closely with the council's audit branch, staffed by council officers. Former finance committee chairman, Cr Eddy Sarroff claimed his credentials should support his bid as the council representative on the committee which was to comprise Mayor Ron Clarke as chairman, three highly-qualified community members and a councillor. But according to Cr Sue Robbins, having Cr Sarroff on an audit committee was like a director investigating him or herself. "All members of this committee should be totally divorced from any aspect of councillor responsibility," she said. "Cr Sarroff is still a finance committee member and should not be involved in auditing of any aspect of council - it would be quite inappropriate. I am recommending Cr Daphne McDonald for the role, she has served on a previous audit committee and would be an impartial dedicated member. No member of the finance committee past or present should play a role in auditing council business." Cr Jan Grew gave strong support to Cr McDonald fulfilling the role. In response, Cr Sarroff said he would willingly step down from the finance committee to be nominated. "Serving on this committee requires a knowledge of the history of what has gone before. It needs a knowledge and understanding of issues such as noncompliance and the way ratepayers' money must be handled, and possible risks. It needs knowledge of works in progress and the ability to ensure ratepayers' best interests are served," he said. Arguments against Cr Sarroff being on the audit committee continued until Mayor Ron Clarke called for the vote to be taken. A slender majority saw Cr Sarroff win his bid. The Mayor and council voted Cr McDonald as delegate when the Mayor was absent. Speaking to the Gold Coast Mail later, Cr Sarroff said he would ensure that due process was followed in council audit matters and would work closely and in support of audit branch staff. "It is absolutely vital for the council representative on the audit committee to have financial experience in council matters. There needs to be unfettered access to all auditing procedures, especially to non-compliance issues which could place ratepayers' money at risk," he said. If council considered it necessary he would step down from the finance com- mittee, he said.



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