The Liberal Opposition today called for the Auditor-General to conduct an inquiry into the purchasing of printer cartridges by Labor Government departments and agencies.
Shadow Finance Minister Rob Lucas said information provided to the Liberal Opposition indicated the Aboriginal Affairs and Reconciliation Division of the Department of Premier and Cabinet had purchased more than 200 cartridges at a total cost of more than $80,000 between May-July 2011.
The supplier is Universal Cartridges, a Victorian-based company whose website makes it clear that vouchers from Harvey Norman, Coles Myer, Liquorland and JB Hi Fi are offered to individuals who purchase their products.
Earlier this year both the Corruption and Crime Commission of Western Australia and the Victorian Ombudsman conducted enquiries that revealed public servants in those states had been paying inflated prices for cartridges and also receiving personal benefits from an unnamed Victorian-based company.
DPC executives today told the Legislative Council Budget and Finance Committee they were unaware of the contract, but they had already commenced an internal audit inquiry based on the findings from Victoria and WA.
The executives agreed that purchasing more than 200 cartridges was significantly more than would be required by one section of the Department.
“Whilst the Liberal Opposition has now lodged FOI requests to all Government departments and agencies for purchases of cartridges, it is clear this will not be sufficient,” Mr Lucas said.
“For example, in Victoria the Ombudsman found that 66 schools had purchased cartridges from a particular Victorian company under investigation.
“The only way a comprehensive inquiry could be conducted in South Australia would be for the Auditor-General to do so as he has the power to seek documents from both schools and companies supplying cartridges.
“The Labor Government and the embattled Minister Grace Portolesi need to assure taxpayers that some public servants are not paying inflated prices for printer cartridges whilst at the same time receiving personal benefits which they have not disclosed.”
It should be noted that, whilst there are obvious questions about public sector practices, there is nothing unlawful about any company offering reward programs for purchases by individuals and private sector companies.