Video transcript: Introducing our 2020 information updates

Transcript for a video featuring Stephen Walker introducing the 2020 Audit New Zealand information updates

The implications of Covid-19 on reporting and auditing in the public sector
Introducing our 2020 information updates
Stephen Walker
Executive Sirector, Audit New Zealand

Stephen Walker

Ngā mihi nui ki a koutou. Hello everyone. My name’s Steve Walker and I’m the Executive Director at Audit New Zealand. I’m really proud to introduce the 2020 Audit New Zealand client video series. Slightly different than what we had planned at the beginning of 2020.

Being a baseball fan, having lived for many years in New York, there’s a saying I think that’s quite apt at the moment. ‘I feel the world has been thrown a curveball.’ Because of COVID-19 and the events that have transpired over the last few months, and the impact that it’s likely to have for some months to come, we’ve all been put in a position where we have to rethink how we do things and in some ways, think about what the new normal might look like in the future.

For us at Audit New Zealand, normally at this time of year we would be presenting client events around the country, which would incorporate a mix of sessions from our own in-house experts sharing their knowledge, expertise and insights, mixed with a number of other representatives of other organisations sharing their own knowledge, experience and insights. This year, we’ve changed tack a bit and we’re going to be providing some of that valuable content to you through this video series.

From the time in late-March when the Prime Minister introduced the alert levels to all New Zealanders, we knew life was going to be different in New Zealand. From that time on, the Auditor General has been quite clear that his focus is on ensuring continued quality and robustness around reporting from entities and the quality in robustness in audits that are performed on his behalf. Both of those things are absolutely vital to the ongoing trust and confidence, both Parliament and New Zealanders can have in the public sector.

As part of our engagement with entities, we’ve become even more aware of some of the challenges that public sector organisations will have to grapple with over the coming weeks and months. Some of those issues will require significant rethinks around judgements, significant estimations, the viability of many public sector organisations. Clearly, all of those things flow through to having an audit implication as well.

These challenges will require significant time and expertise to be used to make sure we come up with the right answers; come up with the right answers in terms of those judgements in estimations that have to be made, but also in the way those things are reported and disclosed to the users of annual reports from public sector organisations. Equally, from our perspective as auditors, we’ll be wanting to understand how organisations have reached those judgements, made those decisions, address the risks that are presented in this new environment, and what that might mean for the reporting that entities do, and the reporting that we do.

Public sector organisations will have to grapple with a range of challenges, whether it be fair value and impairment considerations, whether it be around looking at the expected credit losses of some of the financial assets and liabilities that they hold on their balance sheets, whether it’s around the viability assessments of either whole organisations or some parts of organisations. All of those things are important for preparers, management and governors to grapple with and make sure they give it the time warranted to make those right decisions when it comes to those judgements.

For us as auditors, as I say, we’ll be wanting to work closely with governors, management and preparers to ensure that all of those decisions are made within a continuing and robust control environment in all those organisations. At a time, particularly where there’s a lot of additional expenditure going through the wider public sector and the private sector, we’re very conscious of the growing risk around fraud, corruption and just other probity and waste matters that really need to be given attention and certainly made more transparent.

For our part as public sector auditors, we do expect the coming weeks and months to present quite a bit of challenge in grappling with what will be quite an additional amount of work for auditors. This applies really across both the private and the public sectors. All of these issues and the challenges that organisations and auditors face will no doubt mean that annual reports and the audit opinion within those annual reports will look a bit different this year. We expect there to be quite a bit of new disclosure and reporting around the COVID-19 implications. We also expect in most, if not all audit opinions, there will be some form of additional reporting. Whether that’s in key audit matters or additional disclosures drawing attention to COVID-19 implications.

The Auditor-General’s response to the COVID-19 implications will need to be multi-dimensional. Very mindful of the pressure on entities and auditors in coming up with those quality reports and performing those quality audits. So the Auditor-General is looking at how he can work with other agencies to consider things like extending statutory timeframes, to providing the necessary centralised guidance and policy support for entities and auditors.

For us at Audit New Zealand, we’re also looking at what guidance that we can provide to entities and different parts of the public sector.

So now if I move to introducing our new series of videos, and it gives me great pleasure to introduce for our first two videos, two external – if you like – special guest sessions. The first around climate change and the second around digital disruption. The first session around climate change, we have Lloyd Kavanagh, Partner, and Stephanie de Groot, Senior Associate, at Minter Ellison Rudd Watts. So Lloyd and Stephanie will talk to us about the climate change implications associated with physical, transitional and liability risks associated with climate change, and particularly what it means from a legal perspective. Really a relevant and poignant sessions for preparers and management, but particularly governors of public sector organisations.

The second session, Melissa Clark-Reynolds. Melissa, an experience public sector governor, advisor. Significant experience in the digital transformation and digital disruption space. Melissa will bring to us, in her own unique style, her perspectives on digital disruption, and particularly as it relates to the COVID-19 environment that we find ourselves in today.

In terms of our own experts, we’ll have sessions from Brett Story within our technical team, speaking on the latest developments in financial reporting, as well as bringing in some of that new work we’ve been doing around the implications of COVID-19 and the impact on financial reporting.

We also have Martin Richardson, one of our experts in our specialist audit and assurance team. Martin’s been a regular speaker around procurement and contract management issues and he’ll bring some updates to us around procurement in this year’s video series as well.

I do note for those that are interested in claiming continuing professional development, you’ll still be able to do that through watching these videos and there will be information provided on that on our website.

So I encourage you to sit back, relax and enjoy what offerings we’re bringing to you this year by way of our video series. I hope you enjoy them. There will be an opportunity for you to ask questions and engage with us and we’ll be coming back to you with ways of providing answers to those questions. Ngā mihi nui. Thank you.

Title: For more information about our work and to download presentations, visit

Watch the original video.