Liberal Member of the Legislative Council, Rob Lucas, today called on Premier Rann to introduce new controls of accountability on Ministers’ spending on overseas and some interstate travel.
“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,” Mr Lucas said.
“After a long battle using Freedom of Information laws, it can now be revealed that Mr Rann and his Ministers had spent in excess of $3 million of taxpayers’ money on overseas travel in 5 ½ years to the end of 2007.
“Not unexpectedly, the winners of the Marco Polo Traveller’s Award were Kevin Foley and Mike Rann. Mr Foley’s 20 overseas trips have cost taxpayers more than $1 million, whilst Mr Rann’s 17 trips have cost almost $800,000.
“All Members of Parliament are currently required to provide details and costs of their travel on Parliament’s website or publicly available reports but Ministers have no similar accountability requirements,” he said. “In addition, some states like Victoria require similar accountability from their Ministers for any overseas travel.
“In the past, accountability has been achieved by governments, both Labor and Liberal, answering detailed questions on notice on costs of travel.”
However, Mr Lucas said that Mr Rann and most of his Ministers had refused for up to six years to answer questions in Parliament on overseas travel costs. As a result, for the last two years the Opposition has had to pursue this information using Freedom of Information laws.
“But, the Rann Government has continued to use every ‘trick in the book’ to try to prevent the easy release of the information,” Mr Lucas said.
“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.
“The Liberal Party accepts that reasonable levels of expenditure on overseas travel are defensible; however, given the significant issues requiring attention in South Australia it seems very hard to justify about 40 separate overseas trips for Messrs Rann and Foley. (Please see attached table.)
“It also seems hard to justify some Ministers needing to take up to four extra staff on their trips to look after them.
“The public interest demands that Mr Rann and his Ministers are more accountable for their spending and he must justify publicly the value to taxpayers and the state of all their trips.”
Ministers’ Travel Expenses and Countries Visited
Minister Countries visited Number of overseas trips Total cost
Mike Rann USA, UK, Hong Kong, South Korea, China, Spain, Germany, United Arab Emirates, India, Canada, France, New Zealand, Chile, Greece, Italy, Cyprus 17 $ 760,497.07
Kevin Foley Singapore, Hong Kong, China, USA, France, UK, Japan, France, Germany, Switzerland, Canada, Malaysia, Spain, Bahrain, United Arab Emirates, Kuala Lumpur, Chile 20 $ 1,034,502.69
Paul Holloway Korea, Japan, Hong Kong, NZ, China, Malaysia, Thailand, Singapore, Canada, USA, Japan, Vietnam, India, United Arab Emirates, UK, Chile 12 $ 275,588.03
Pat Conlon France, UK, Ireland, USA, Spain, Sweden, Germany, NZ, United Arab Emirates 8 $ 194,621.32
Michael Atkinson Italy, Malta, Cyprus, Greece, Norfolk Island, NZ, Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia and Montenegro, Singapore, Vietnam, USA 7 $ 112,296.66
John Hill USA, Vietnam, UK, France, Switzerland, Ireland, Canada, NZ, Scotland, Spain 7 $ 132,095.70
Michael Wright NZ, USA, UK, Spain, Switzerland, France, Singapore, China, United Arab Emirates 8 $ 194,611.39
Jane Lomax-Smith NZ, USA, Spain, Korea, Malaysia, France, UK, India, Singapore 10 $ 134,386.23
Jay Weatherill USA, UK, Scotland 2 $ 52,325.15
Rory McEwen United Arab Emirates, China, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Japan, Canada, USA, NZ 5 $ 157,906.80
Karlene Maywald Japan, NZ 3 $ 45,800.00
Carmel Zollo NZ, UK, Italy, Sweden 2 $ 46,691.55
Jennifer Rankine NZ 1 $ 13,819.17
Paul Caica USA, China, Hong Kong, Macau 2 $ 32,258.52
Gail Gago NZ, Germany, Sweden, Scotland, Ireland, Italy 2 $ 54,224.23
TOTAL 106 $ 3,241,624.51