Shadow Treasurer Rob Lucas said today that key evidence given by Auditor General staff to a parliamentary enquiry on the ‘Stashed Cash’ issue has been revealed to be wrong.
This week’s Legislative Council ‘Stashed Cash’ Committee quizzed Auditor General Ken McPherson and Director of Audits, Simon Marsh, about evidence they had given to a previous Economic and Finance Committee hearing.
“In late 2004, Mr Marsh, who appeared with Mr McPherson, told the Economic and Finance Committee that key documents which described the payments under investigation did not reveal they were transferred into the Crown Solicitor’s Trust Account (CSTA). Mr Marsh went on to say that ‘they were not explicit and they certainly did not discuss what happens’,” Mr Lucas said.
“However, this week Mr. Marsh and Mr. McPherson were confronted with a series of documents, all of which were available for audits to see, which clearly showed the claim was wrong and showed they were transfers into the CSTA and did describe the nature of the transactions.
“Mr. Marsh was then forced to concede:
‘And I am telling you that, if I had seen this before, I would not have given this answer.’
“It was evidence like this which led Attorney General Michael Atkinson to make claims in February 2005 about a secret second set of books:
‘…Kate Lennon used one of the oldest accounting tricks known to man; she had two sets of books, one for the Treasurer, the Auditor General, the Parliament, the public and me and a second set of books for a small circle who needed to know.’
“It is clear that Mr. Atkinson’s statement to the Parliament was wrong and that no second set of books was being maintained.
“Mr Marsh and Mr McPherson were also questioned about evidence given by Mr Marsh in 2004, which makes it clear that Mr Marsh believed Mr Atkinson had ‘corroborated’ Ms Lennon’s claim that she had told Mr Atkinson about the CSTA.
“The evidence from Mr Marsh was important as Mr Atkinson had sworn an oath to the Auditor General that he didn’t even know the CSTA existed.
“Mr Marsh told the Economic and Finance Committee on 8 December 2004:
‘It is my assessment that the Attorney General’s evidence was absolutely consistent with, and corroborated, what Ms Lennon had said: that is, she has said that she had talked to him about the use of the CSTA at a meeting but he had not understood what she had told him.’
“This week, Mr Marsh wanted to call his answers ’inelegant’ and that he hadn’t meant to imply that the Attorney General had corroborated Ms Lennon’s claim that she had told him about the CSTA!
“Curiously, neither Mr Marsh nor Mr McPherson was prepared to agree the statement was wrong.
“Evidence presented by Mr Marsh and Mr McPherson this week together with other available evidence make it increasingly difficult to believe a number of the statements made by Attorney General Atkinson on the ‘Stashed Cash’ issue.”