The Environment Department advised Treasury at the end of September of a $14 million ‘black hole’ in the Environment budget, said Shadow Treasurer Rob Lucas.
Acting DEWNR Chief Executive Tim Goodes told the Budget and Finance Committee yesterday they had been unable to impose new water charges on groups such as irrigators in the Riverland and water users in the Adelaide Hills.
The Labor Government’s June 2013 policy decision was to impose new revenue charges of $14 million per year from 2014/15 to ‘recover the full cost of water planning and management costs from those who benefit from the services provided.’
“The Labor Government’s policy might require legislative change to impose a new annual water license charge and it is now clear such legislation would not be able to be introduced until early next year at the earliest,” said Mr Lucas.
“Chief Executives are required by the Treasurer to advise Treasury as soon as they believe they will not be able to deliver on a significant budget saving or revenue measure.
“The Environment Department had to advise Treasury last month of this $14 million black hole.
“If the Environment Department is unable to implement this policy, there will be a $56 million hit to the budget over the four year forward estimates.”
In other evidence to the Committee it was confirmed that:
• The Labor Government would not be keeping its promise of making South Australia the first ‘carbon neutral’ government in Australia by 2020;
• The Department had 45 surplus employees but still hadn’t been advised by Mr. Weatherill or Mr. Koutsantonis of the final details of the Government’s forced redundancy policy; and,
• A former Ministerial staffer who had been found guilty under the ‘Cartridgegate’ controversy had been reprimanded and had then received a targeted separation package as their job was declared as surplus.