Publication Details

This conference paper was originally published as Watts, T, & Smark, CJ, Contributions to Local Government Accountability in Colonial New South Wales, 5th Asian Pacific Interdisciplinary Research in Accounting Conference, Auckland, New Zealand, 8-10 July 2007.


Accountability innovations often reflect the contemporary social, political and economic relationships, and they are not always made by accounting professionals. This article reports the contributions made to local government accountability in colonial New South Wales by a medical practitioner, Dr John Spark. His contributions relate specifically to the financial management and reporting practices of the Katoomba Municipal Council (NSW), during his tenure as Alderman and Mayor in 1893 and 1894. Spark’s innovations included the regular reporting and reviewing of major expenditure items, separate reporting of extraordinary items, separation of capital expenditure and recurrent expenditure, the presentation of detailed comparative reports, and the attempted introduction of a sinking fund. The results support the proposition that socio-economic variables influence the adoption of accountability mechanisms.