Accountability needed for Ministers’ travel and entertainment spending
Saturday, 30 December 2006
Shadow Treasurer Rob Lucas today called on Premier Rann to introduce new controls of accountability on Ministers spending on overseas and interstate travel and entertainment.
Mr Lucas said as a first step Ministers should be required to provide details of total costs, purpose and results of each overseas and certain interstate trips on the government website.
“All Members of Parliament are currently required to provide details and costs of their travel on Parliaments web site but Ministers have no similar accountability requirements,” Mr Lucas said.
“In the past accountability has been achieved by governments, both Labor and Liberal, answering detailed questions on notice on costs of travel. However the increasingly arrogant Rann Government has refused to answer questions about overseas travel for the past four years.
“Ministers should be subject to the same public accountability as other MP’s about their travel costs. This will fix the clear loophole which has been exploited by Mr Rann and his Ministers.
“In late 2005 the Liberal Party lodged Freedom of Information requests to all Ministers seeking details of travel and entertainment expenses. Whilst not all Ministers have responded and some answers are still dribbling in, some limited information is now available on Ministers spending. (See attached)
“The Liberal Party accepts that reasonable expenses on travel and entertainment by Ministers are defensible. However it is clear there are some examples which are neither reasonable or defensible.
“Most Ministers appear to have engaged in a battle to win the title of the Rann Government’s ‘Sir Lunch-a-lot’ with equal winners being Paul Holloway and Michael Wright just ahead of Pat Conlon.
“It is now clear why Mr Rann has been arrogantly refusing for four years to answer questions about travel costs.
“Clearly Mr Rann and his Ministers have something to hide and they will do almost anything to prevent embarrassing information from being released.
“Mr Rann must now show some leadership on this issue and ensure that only reasonable and defensible travel and entertainment expenses are paid for by taxpayers.”
Ministers’ Travel and Entertainment Expenses – Some Highlights
• Mr Rann spending about $700 a night to stay at an exclusive 5-star London hotel near Buckingham Palace whilst other Ministers have been able to stay in less expensive London hotels.
• Mr Rann spending $6468 on a Lear Jet hire, $1500 for a Limousine in the United States and $13.95 to watch ‘The Italian Job’ as an in house movie while staying in a Darwin hotel – note one other minister reimbursed cost of in house movie as a personal expense.
• Mr Foley spent $2400 at the Grand Hyatt in Los Angeles and then two days at the Beau Rivage Resort and Casino described as the premier vacation resort and casino in Biloxi, Mississippi. Mr Foley’s spending at this MGM Mirage Resort included US$15 for a hotel spa – note one other minister reimbursed cost of hotel spa as a personal expense.
• Mr Foley spending $75 on valet laundry at the Intercontinental in Sydney during a one day visit.
• Mr Wright using a limousine service for $187 during a one day trip to Sydney and $394 for dinner at the exclusive Yoshii Restaurant for three people.
• Ms Lomax-Smith spending $1095 on a dinner at Magill Estate including $130 for a 1991 Seppelt Sparkling Shiraz. Ms Lomax-Smith also claimed back $10 after a chicken and fruit lunch from Coles.
• Mr Conlon spent $1028 on food and drinks in the Government corporate box for the Andrea Bocelli concert.
• Mr Holloway spent $1800 at the Grand Hyatt Dublin and $172 for a meal at Nick’s Seafood Restaurant in Sydney.
• Mr Weatherill claimed $50 after visiting The Men’s Room (Hairdresser).