Auditor-General quizzed on whether Atkinson has committed perjury
Wednesday, 26 October 2005
The Auditor-General has conceded that Attorney-General Michael Atkinson would be guilty of perjury if it could be shown that he was aware of the existence of the Crown Solicitor’s Trust Account, Shadow Treasurer Rob Lucas said today.
These questions arose as a result of sworn testimony given by Mr Atkinson to Auditor-General Ken MacPherson that he wasn’t even aware of the existence of the Crown Solicitor’s Trust Account (CSTA).
The CSTA is the account central to what has become known as the ‘stashed cash’ affair, which involved the allegedly unlawful transfer of funds to circumvent Treasury policies on the carryover of funds from one financial year to the next.
The following evidence was put to the Auditor-General at today’s meeting of the Legislative Council ‘Stashed Cash’ Select Committee:
• Mr Atkinson’s 2002 Briefing for Incoming Government made specific reference to the CSTA
• Mr Atkinson had presented to Parliament two separate Annual Reports of his own Department which had a total of four separate references to the CSTA
• Mr Atkinson had received two separate Auditor-General Reports which referred to his Department and which had a total of eight separate references to the CSTA
• The former Chief Executive of his Department had given evidence that she had specifically referred to the CSTA on about six to eight separate occasions in meetings with Mr Atkinson
• The end-of-year balance in the CSTA had exploded from just $2m under the former Liberal Government to $12m three years later under Labor
“Whilst the Auditor-General did not conclude that Mr Atkinson had committed perjury, there are now many questions that can only be answered by Mr Atkinson,” Mr Lucas said today.
“If Mr Atkinson’s sworn testimony is to be believed then he will have to argue that he did not read his Briefing for Incoming Government folder, either of his Department’s two annual reports that he presented to Parliament or either of the two Auditor-General reports given to him on his Department’s activities.
“If Mr Atkinson’s defence is that he didn’t read any of these key documents then it is my view Mr Rann has no option but to sack the beleaguered Attorney-General for negligence or incompetence.
“Mr Atkinson must now come out of hiding and answer these questions by appearing before the Legislative Council Select Committee.”