The Hon. Rob Lucas MLC

The Hon

Rob Lucas MLC


Media Releases Archives

Rann’s ‘KEYSTONE COPS’ comedy script

Monday, 14 November 2005

Shadow Treasurer Rob Lucas said today that if the Rann Government’s defence of a $5 million ‘loan’ from Minister Weatherill’s former department to Minister Hill’s department was to be believed it would make a great ‘keystone cops’ comedy script.

Last year’s Auditor-General’s report made significant criticisms of a $5 million ‘loan’ from Minister Weatherill’s Department for Administrative and Information Services (DAIS) to Minister Hill’s Department of Water, Land and Biodiversity Conservation (DWLBC) and last week a Legislative Council Select Committee took evidence from a public servant involved in the deal.

The Select Committee was told:

• a middle level public servant in one department (DWLBC) at the end of the financial year thought they might go into overdraft so rather than talk to Treasury organised a $5 million ‘loan’ from another middle level public servant in another department (DAIS)
• the ‘loan’ didn’t involve a written and signed contract but involved an email exchange between the two public servants
• the ‘loan’ was meant to be paid to DWLBC before the end of the financial year (30 June) but a ‘processing error’ meant it was mistakenly transferred at the start of the next financial year (1July)
• the ‘loan’ was meant to be repaid by mid July but DAIS ‘forgot’ to get the repayment
• DWLBC also ‘forgot’ about the ‘loan’ and the obligation to repay the loan by mid July
• when the ‘loan’ was eventually repaid two months late in September DAIS ‘forgot’ to collect the interest on the loan which had been agreed to be paid
• DAIS had only one person in an internal audit position at the time and internal audit was rarely seen
• that none of Ministers Hill and Weatherill, both CEOs or anyone at the top of either department supposedly knew anything about the $5 million ‘loan’

The Select Committee was also told that the Rann Government’s financial controls were such that the public servant could have ‘loaned’ $100 million rather than the $5 million!

Whilst this deal does have all the essential elements for a comedy script it is really a tragic condemnation of Mr.Rann and Mr. Foley’s slack financial controls that this could have been allowed to occur.

Finally the public servant who ‘loaned’ the $5 million was ‘counselled’ and had a ‘note placed on her file’ and is now in charge of corporate services in another department!

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