Wider inquiry on ‘Cartridgegate’ now essential
Thursday, 20 October 2011
The Labor Government must agree to a comprehensive independent inquiry of all government departments and agencies following the latest ‘Cartridgegate’ revelations.
At least four government departments, involving eight staff and more than $400,000 in purchases of printer cartridges, have been identified. In most cases, if not all, staff received personal benefits for purchasing printer cartridges at inflated prices at taxpayers’ expense.
The scandal was first publicly revealed by the Liberal Opposition at a Legislative Council Budget and Finance Committee meeting on 21 September.
“On that day the CEO of the Department of Premier and Cabinet indicated he had no knowledge of the scandal within his own department,” Shadow Finance Minister Rob Lucas said.
“Now we are aware the scandal has spread to at least four departments – Premier and Cabinet, Health, Transport, Energy and Infrastructure and Mr Weatherill’s Education and Children’s Services. The Liberal Opposition has lodged FOI requests with all government departments and agencies to try to determine the extent of this scandal.
“Mr Weatherill’s own department – DECS – has advised they couldn’t
agree to the FOI request because it would cost $3.3 million to provide copies of invoices for printer cartridges in the department!
“The problem at the moment is that current investigations are limited to eight related Victoria-based companies previously identified in the Western Australian Corruption and Crime Commission report and the Victorian Ombudsman’s report.
“Other printer cartridge suppliers offer similar deals to these companies and potentially raise similar problems, yet they are not being investigated. A further problem with the current investigations is that they rely on the honesty and accountability of government departments and officers to indicate they have received a personal benefit from the purchase of printer cartridges.
“It is of great concern that the 2010/11 Auditor-General’s Report, tabled this week in Parliament, makes no mention of this scandal at all.
“What is now required is a specific investigation by the Auditor-General. If the Auditor-General does not intend to conduct a comprehensive inquiry, then the Treasurer has the power under the Public Finance and Audit Act 1987 to issue a direction to the Auditor-General to conduct an inquiry.”