The Labor Government was first warned about potential printer cartridge rorting by the Western Australian Corruption and Crime Commission on 21 April 2010, the contents of a leaked copy of a confidential report into ‘Cartridgegate’ reveal.
Shadow Finance Minister Rob Lucas said the Ernst and Young report, dated November 2011, was a damning indictment of almost two years of Labor Government inaction, ineptitude and secrecy.
The report also reveals that sometime between July 2010 and September 2010, Shared Services SA in Treasury became aware of significant problems with printer cartridge purchases in SA Government departments.
“However, this issue was deliberately kept secret by the Labor Government until the Liberal Party publicly raised the issue on 21 September 2011 in the Legislative Council Budget and Finance Committee,” Mr Lucas said.
“It wasn’t until November 2011 – 19 months after the first warning – that the Weatherill Government announced the establishment of a Procurement Working Group to coordinate a whole of government response.
“It has now been revealed that printer cartridge purchases from suspect companies have continued for almost two years after the Government was first warned about rorting, and even after the Procurement Working Group was established.”
Premier Weatherill’s Procurement Working Group is now widely discredited on a number of fronts:
• Department of Further Education, Employment Science and Technology (DFEEST) Chief Executive Ray Garrand confirmed this week that public servants who made purchases from the suspect companies were not even being interviewed if a benefit wasn’t listed on the invoice – despite evidence that some benefits were kept off invoices and delivered to the private homes of public servants
• Minister O’Brien’s Ministerial Statement on 8 November 2011 made no mention of the Government being warned in April 2010 by the Western Australian Corruption and Crime Commission
• Minister O’Brien is now in charge of an inquiry that is investigating the ministerial office of one of his ministerial colleagues
“Premier Weatherill and the Labor Government stand condemned for their secrecy and ineptitude on this issue,” Mr Lucas said.
“Mr Weatherill must explain why he continues to refuse to have this issue referred to the Auditor General under Section 32 of the Public Finance and Audit Act for a comprehensive and independent investigation.
“This continued refusal to act raises suspicions that Mr Weatherill is more concerned about political embarrassment to him and his Government rather than openly revealing all of the facts of this growing scandal.”