Evidence to a parliamentary committee has implicated a Weatherill Government Minister’s office in the ‘Cartridgegate’ scandal.
Shadow Finance Minister Rob Lucas said Department of Further Education, Employment, Science and Technology (DFEEST) Chief Executive Ray Garrand confirmed to the Legislative Council Budget and Finance Committee yesterday that an officer who had been in the Ministerial office was being investigated.
“Information provided to the Liberal Opposition is that an officer in the Ministerial office purchased up to $20,000 of cartridges from companies which are the subject of the current investigation,” Mr Lucas said.
Mr Garrand told the committee:
HON ROB LUCAS MLC: Is it correct that you have been advised that up to $20,000 worth of invoices from the suspect companies were purchased by an officer in the minister’s office?
MR GARRAND: There is one instance that we are looking at, which is still a matter of investigation.
HON ROB LUCAS MLC: From the minister’s office?
MR GARRAND: It relates to a DFEEST employee
HON ROB LUCAS MLC: In the minister’s office?
MR GARRAND: That DFEEST employee was in the minister’s office, yes.
The following Ministers have been responsible for DFEEST over the last five years:
Hon Paul Caica MP: 23/03/2006 – 02/03/2009
Hon Michael O‟Brien MP: 03/03/2009 – 24/03/2009
Hon Jack Snelling MP: 24/03/2010 – 21/10/2011
Hon Thomas Kenyon MP: 21/10/2011 – present
“The Weatherill Government must now publicly reveal the dates of all invoices (not just those where a benefit is identified on the invoice) for purchases of cartridges with companies under investigation,” Mr Lucas said.
“Only when this information is revealed will we know which Minister (or Ministers) was in charge of the office at the time of these purchases.
“Mr Weatherill should also reveal whether this officer under investigation is still working in a Minister’s office.
“Given this stunning new revelation, it is untenable for the Weatherill Government to continue with an inquiry being led by Minister O’Brien when a Weatherill Government Minister’s office is implicated in the scandal.
“Mr Weatherill must now ‘come clean’ and order the Minister or Ministers involved to reveal what they have known about this scandal, and when they were first aware of the purchases.
“The Minister (or Ministers) must also indicate what action, if any, they took. For example, did they immediately refer the matter to the Auditor-General?
“This revelation today further supports the Liberal Opposition’s view that the current inquiry is a farce and the Auditor-General should be immediately directed under Section 32 of the Public Finance and Audit Act to conduct an independent inquiry into ‘Cartridgegate’.
“If Mr Weatherill again fails to act, he will stand accused of a massive cover-up and of being more concerned about what embarrassing evidence might be revealed about the ‘Cartridgegate’ scandal.”