Recent evidence given to a Parliamentary Committee by senior public servants has confirmed the Rann Government is continuing to hide millions of dollars being spent on consultants.
Liberal Member of the Legislative Council Rob Lucas said today the most recent annual report by the Department for Transport, Energy and Infrastructure (DTEI) made the extraordinary claim that the Department had only employed five consultants in the entire year.
Senior DTEI public servants, including Chief Executive Jim Hallion, last week gave evidence to the Legislative Council Budget and Finance Committee and confirmed the reason why only five consultants were reported was because many consultants had instead been classified as ‘contractors’.
Mr Hallion: “…I can tell you for 2006-07 our actual consulting expenditure is about $805,000 which is about 0.05 per cent of our total turnover.”
Mr Lucas: “That is because all of these consultants are called contractors.”
Mr Hallion: “That is correct….”
“It is now clear that millions of dollars being spent on consultants is being hidden because Departments are not required to include in annual reports details of spending on contractors. Over the last five years Mr Rann has taken a number of decisions to avoid accountability and preventing details of actual spending on consultants being revealed publicly,” Mr Lucas said.
• Annual reports no longer have to report the names, total cost and work undertaken by each consultant;
• If $1 million is spent on a consultant, the Department only has to include in the annual report that “over $50,000” was spent;
• Consultants being reclassified as “contractors” so Mr Rann can claim Government spending on consultants has been reduced.
Mr Lucas said that Rann Government promises about openness and accountability have again been exposed as a fraud. Mr Rann had promised to cut dramatically spending on consultants and the Rann Government has clearly been trying to hide its failure in this regard.
“The Liberal Party called on the former Auditor-General in 2005 to investigate and report on this reduced accountability by the Rann Government. With a new Auditor-General, and the release of his annual report expected this week, it is hoped the new Auditor-General will be prepared to finally tackle this issue.”