The Rann Government is deliberately concealing the real cost of ministerial offices by not including in budget documents millions of dollars being spent on extra staff and resources, Shadow Finance Minister Rob Lucas said today.
“Budget documents this year claim the total cost of the 15 ministerial offices was $29.9 million and that there were 212 spin doctors and other staff in those offices. This figure of $29.9 million was $3.6 million higher than the 2007-08 figure of $26.3 million in budget documents,” Mr Lucas said.
“However, evidence given to the Legislative Council Budget and Finance Committee has revealed these budget figures don’t reveal the total cost. Departmental CEOs have confirmed separate departmental budgets pay millions of dollars per year extra on staff and resources for ministers which are not revealed in the budget documents.”
Budget and Finance Committee evidence shows the following examples of spending being concealed:
Minister’s Office / Dept Payments(09-10) / FTE staff
Conlon / $679,000 / 8
Rann / $608,000 / 7.2
Rankine / $577,000 / 7
Hill / $466,000 / NA
Atkinson/Rau / $446,000 / NA
Foley / $386,000 / 4.6
“When the figures for the other 9 ministerial offices are added, it is estimated that the total concealed cost is at least $5 million per year,” Mr Lucas said.
“This means the real total cost of ministerial offices would be at least $35 million per year. And this estimate would not include some other hidden costs such as part of the cost of the ministerial car and driver, and any overseas travel and entertainment paid for by the department.
“The total number of spin doctors and other ministerial staff has now increased by about 100 in just eight years under the Rann Government.
“In the last budget Mr Rann claimed he was going to cut ministerial office expenses by 15%. However, it has now been confirmed the supposed 15% cut will not be applied to these hidden departmental ‘top-up’ payments and also won’t be applied to non-salary costs in the office.
“It is also clear ministers will be able, over the coming years, to order their departments to provide extra ‘top-up’ funding to replace any staff lost through the supposed 15% cut.
“This is just another example of the political spin of this Labor Government, and that they haven’t really heard the message delivered to them at the last election.
“There is something drastically wrong with this Labor Government’s priorities when they would prefer to cut funding to critical programmes like country hospital grants and eating disorder units at Flinders rather than save about $28 million over four years by simply removing the extra 100 staff they have employed in their ministerial offices.”