Families and Communities Minister Jennifer Rankine’s office had refused to release names and details of her personal staff and had cited public safety issues as the bizarre explanation.
“The arrogance of the Rann Government is clearly demonstrated by the increasingly outrageous reasons they give for refusing to provide information under Freedom of Information laws,” Liberal MLC Rob Lucas said today.
“Ms Rankine either has something to hide or she’s playing politics by refusing to release under FOI the names and details of her 21 personal staff.
“For years, Ministers have released this information without exemption and already this year most Ministers including Deputy Premier Kevin Foley had released the information.
“Last year, even Ms Rankine released in full the names and details of her 19 personal staff in response to an FOI request.”
The original application sent on 6 October 2009 requested:
“As at 1 October 2009, the names and positions of all staff within the Minister’s office, including Departmental staff appointed to the Minister’s office”
Mr Lucas said that on 14 December 2009, Ms Rankine’s office refused access to the information, claiming that “…a document is an exempt document if it contains matter the disclosure of which could reasonably be expected to endanger the life or physical safety of any person…”
“As a result, this week I have submitted an appeal against this decision and have asked Ms Rankine to reverse her bizarre exemption,” Mr Lucas said.
“If Ms Rankine refuses to provide the material, it’s obvious that she is hiding something or someone in her office.
“One of the additional staff appointed this year is a second media “Spin Doctor” for her office, even though the normal allocation for other Ministers is just one media “Spin Doctor”.
“It’s also worth noting that Ms Rankine requires assistance from 21 personal staff to help her do her job as Minister.
“Budget Papers released in June this year claimed that Ms Rankine’s Ministerial Office only employed 10 FTE staff with a total budget of $1.451 million.
“However, the document released under FOI reveals that Ms Rankine actually has 21 FTE personal staff in her Ministerial Office.”
The document obtained under FOI shows that Minister Rankine has:
1 Chief of Staff
4 Ministerial Officers
2 Media/Communication Advisers
5 Ministerial Liaison Officers
1 Office Manager
8 Administrative Staff
1 Ministerial Chauffeur
“Minister Rankine should now explain why she has claimed to have only 10 FTE staff when in reality she has more than double that number,” Mr Lucas said.
“The answer clearly has to be that either Ms Rankine is extraordinarily wasteful of taxpayers’ money or is extraordinarily incompetent and needs a lot of help to do her job as Minister.”