Minister Paul Caica must clarify statements made by DEWNR Chief Executive Allan Holmes on the ‘Cartridgegate’ scandal.
“At this week’s Budget and Finance Committee meeting, Mr Holmes confirmed he told the media in March he had moved an officer out of Minister Caica’s office prior to allegations of ‘Cartridgegate’ abuses being raised in the Budget and Finance Committee on 5 March 2012,” Shadow Finance Minister Rob Lucas said.
“Mr Holmes confirmed he had removed the officer to avoid “political embarrassment” for the Minister.
“However, the Liberal Party has received documents under Freedom of Information which reveal the officer in question actually signed documents in Minister Caica’s ministerial office dated 5 March 2012.
“Given the apparent conflict between the statements and the documents Minister Caica is clearly in a position to clarify the facts. He should now indicate whether this senior officer in his Ministerial office was moved out on the day the ‘Cartridgegate’ revelations became public (5 March) or sometime prior to that.
“This further controversy on ‘Cartridgegate’ is more evidence of why the inquiry into this scandal should be conducted by the independent Auditor-General and not by a Ministerial colleague of Mr Caica.”
In other evidence to the Budget and Finance Committee, Mr Holmes stated:
• he had no knowledge of any details of the Premier’s $2 million communications plan on the Murray even though he met weekly with the man in charge of the plan
• the 30 per cent increase in entrance fees at Belair National Park had led to a 7 per cent drop in visitors, and the total increase in fees at Belair might end up at 50-55 per cent
• the decision to no longer publish total visitor numbers to national parks was unrelated to any drop in numbers due to big increases in fees
Finally, Mr Holmes stated he was “not sure” if it was still Government policy to ensure the government was carbon neutral by 2020.
“It seems incredible that the head of the Government’s own environment department is unable to confirm whether this key promise, made in 2008, remains Government policy,” Mr Lucas said.
“Labor’s commitment was clear, as outlined by former Premier Rann at the Climate Leader Summit in Poland in December 2008:
“We are also seeking to ensure that our Government’s operations are totally carbon neutral by 2020. Our Ministers already are.”
“Perhaps Minister Caica can also clarify whether this is still the Government’s policy, given his Chief Executive couldn’t!”