An increasingly arrogant Rann Government is snubbing its nose at Parliamentary accountability by refusing to answer hundreds of questions on notice in the Parliament.
Shadow Treasurer Rob Lucas said today that some of the questions had been unanswered for periods of up to four years and, to mark the occasion, Premier Rann would be receiving a ‘Fourth Anniversary Card’ to mark the fourth anniversary of the first question lodged in December 2002.
“As at December 2006 there were 505 unanswered questions on notice to Rann Government Ministers on the Legislative Council notice paper,” Mr. Lucas said.
“Some of the areas covered by these questions include:
• Capital spending splurges by departments at the end of the financial year;
• Details of public servants, who had received separation packages, then being re-employed as contractors;
• Details of Ministerial office budgets, including costs of office renovations after the 2002 election and staff costs, being hidden by getting the department to pay for them;
• Details of policies and costs of public servants not taking annual leave and long service leave when it is due;
• Details of underspending on projects and services by all departments;
• Details of Ministers’ overseas travel including costs being met by departments and not the Ministerial office budget as well as whether staff or Ministers extended travel for private purposes;
• Details on Thinkers in Residence programs, government advertising costs, frequent flyer point usage, short term contract and trainee positions.
“For decades, governments in South Australia, both Labor and Liberal, have generally responded to most questions on notice within a reasonable time frame.
“However, the increasingly arrogant Rann Government is the first government ever to just decide to refuse to answer hundreds of questions for up to four years.
“It is obvious that Mr. Rann is desperate to cover up embarrassing information from becoming public.
“There are many examples of what he is hiding, including:
• In 2003 and 2004, answers showed departments were spending up to 67 per cent of their capital works budget in a last minute spending spree in June. As a result, Mr. Rann has refused to answer similar questions for 2005 and 2006.
• Ministers are deliberately and significantly understating the true cost of their Ministerial office budgets by directing their departments to pay for significant costs, e.g. Minister Wright in 2004 had his department pay for the salaries of 10 of his office staff whilst reporting his total Ministerial office budget was only $1.1 million. As a result, virtually all Ministers have refused to provide answers in recent years.
“In the four years since December 2002, the Rann Government has only answered 27 of 532 questions placed on notice!
“The Rann Government’s arrogance will become even more intolerable if this outrageous situation is allowed to continue beyond its four year anniversary.
“If Mr. Rann refuses to come clean by releasing overdue answers to these questions, it will be clear he is trying to cover up issues he doesn’t want becoming public.”