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B.C. auditor general takes job in Australia, propelled by fight with Liberals

B.C. auditor general John Doyle has accepted a job offer in Australia, saying it wasn’t tenable to stay in his position here after the controversy surrounding his re-appointment bid.
Former B.C. auditor general John Doyle left his job in May.

B.C. auditor general John Doyle has accepted a job offer in Australia, saying it wasn’t tenable to stay in his position here after the controversy surrounding his re-appointment bid.

Doyle was named auditor general of the State of Victoria, Australia, by that parliament’s premier late Monday.

Doyle told the Times Colonist his preference would have been to remain in B.C., where he had always intended to serve a second six-year term. But when a Liberal-dominated legislative committee failed to vote unanimously to re-appoint him, and sparked a political crisis for the Liberal government, he said he knew he had to leave.

“My initial desire when I first started here was to stay for two terms,” Doyle said in an interview.

“I would have been happy to do so. But all this occurred. What do you think, how much co-operation do you think somebody in my position is going to get, going forward? It’s not good for the office, and not good for the province. I’m going to step aside and allow someone new to take up the reins. But I’m going to be doing that once my term ends, not before that.”

Doyle said he believes his term in B.C. does not expire until October, though the legislative committee had disagreed and sought to replace him earlier this year.

His move throws a wrench into the selection process that had denied him a second term.

Critics claimed the Liberal government was trying to silence Doyle because of his numerous critical audits, court challenge for records related to the B.C. Rail corruption trial and blistering audit of financial mismanagement at the B.C. legislature.

Premier Christy Clark intervened last month, offering Doyle a two-year contract extension rather than a full six-year term. In response, Doyle blasted the government for its “Mickey Mouse” selection process, and suggested MLAs on the committee didn’t know what they were doing.

“I really appreciate the groundswell of support I received, but quite frankly really, the office is more important [than me],” Doyle said. “I don’t think I could continue as auditor general and be as productive and useful as I could be.”

Doyle thanked the “wonderful people” in his office, and some of the government officials he’s dealt with in B.C. But he said his experience in this province was not always pleasant.

“I’ve met some wonderful people but also met some people who don’t seem to understand accountability and transparency.” He said there’s always a tension between a government and the independent auditor general, but “it’s just a bit heightened here compared to what I’m used to.”

Doyle said he has a few audits to complete, but won’t release anything just prior to the May 14 B.C. election. He said he plans to clear his desk in June and hopes the next parliament picks his successor. Doyle is expected to start in Australia on or before July 1.

He is originally from Australia, and said he’s pleased to move back with his wife. He was deputy auditor general of Western Australia before coming to B.C. in 2007.

He said he had applied for the Australia job last fall, but wasn’t sure if his wife, who is ill, could make such a long journey. He bowed out, but reapplied after the B.C. committee failed to re-appoint him.

The premier of the State of Victoria, Ted Baillieu, praised Doyle’s appointment in a statement Monday: “John Doyle is well qualified to take on this important role in the Victorian public sector, and the government wishes him well in this new appointment.”