Auditor general John Noseworthy is seen in his Mount Pearl office Thursday where he spoke to The Telegram about his retirement. Photo by Joe Gibbons/The Telegram
John Noseworthy says his time as the province's auditor general was both rewarding and challenging.
On Wednesday, Noseworthy announced on Twitter he was leaving the job at the end of July to pursue other opportunities.
Thursday, he met with The Telegram to talk about why he was leaving now, his time as the watchdog of government spending and what is next for him.
And he didn't rule out running in the upcoming provincial election.
"If the opportunity comes up and it looks like an opportunity I want to pursue, then I would, absolutely," said Noseworthy.
"I'm going to consider any and all opportunities that are available to me," he said, but added he wouldn't make up his mind on his future until after he leaves his current post.
When asked, Noseworthy said the thing he'll remember most about his time as AG is no surprise.
"The highlight, as many people would expect, would be the MHA spending scandal. There's no doubt about that," he said.
Noseworthy is glad he had a part in changing the rules at the House of Assembly to make it, and the politicians who serve the province, more transparent and accountable to the taxpayers.
"It was very disappointing to see what I saw - you know, the fraud and all that sort of thing - but it's good people were brought to justice," he added.
Noseworthy also thinks the work of his office has improved a number of government programs by pointing out inefficiencies and taking the government to task, when necessary, about not following its own rules.
"I know that behind the scenes, government responds favourably to the (annual) report and things happen," he said, but added, "Publically they may not agree."
But Noseworthy said he's disappointed he's leaving office without getting to review the Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board (CNLOPB).
In 2008, Noseworthy tried to get access to the board, but couldn't get the information he wanted. He said he wasn't surprised by some of the findings of the Wells Inquiry into offshore safety, as he had similar concerns.
"I always have concerns when an entity seems to be above ... accountability," Noseworthy said.
Since it's a joint federal and provincial board, he said, his office continues to work with its federal counterpart to try to get access to the board's records.
"(Board officials) smile and the say the right things, but when you get in to do the work, they use proprietary information and those sorts of things in order to redact information and not provide it," he said. "They use that as a way to not give us the information that we need."
Noseworthy said his office isn't stupid enough to release sensitive information publically that could potential hurt oil companies.
He said the board has even redacted human resource information his office tried to get from the CNLOPB, which he called "silly."
As for the timing of his departure - with less than a year left in his mandate - Noseworthy said the time of year was as much a factor as anything.
"It's a 10-year, non-renewable appointment, so I knew (next) April it was all over anyway," he said. "I just thought that it would be nice to retire when the weather is nicer. Well, hopefully it will be nicer by July 31."
He said one rumour - that he's leaving because of a falling out with the premier - was "absolutely incorrect."
Noseworthy also said he has no interest in applying to replace the recently retired federal auditor general, Sheila Fraser.
"I don't speak French," he said with a laugh.
Liberal Leader Yvonne Jones thanked Noseworthy for his work on Thursday.
"Since his appointment in 2002, Mr. Noseworthy has performed his duty to the people of our province with dedication and integrity," she said in a news release.
"His central role in investigating the 2006 House of Assembly spending scandal, as well as his oversight of the independent auditing process, has introduced a heightened level of accountability inside government."