Leaked information provided to the Liberal Opposition has revealed that more than 10 Labor Government departments have been implicated in the ‘Cartridgegate’ scandal.
It is now clear this scandal is spiralling out of control, as every week more and more departments and staff are implicated.
Shadow Finance Minister Rob Lucas said copies of invoices leaked from the Health portfolio also conflict with the earlier indication that only three sections of the department had been implicated.
SA Health Chief Executive David Swan told the Legislative Council Budget and Finance Committee last month that further inquiries were being pursued in three sections of Health, one of which was in the Loxton area.
In fact, invoices from eleven separate areas in Health – some dating back to August 2009 – show receipts of gifts such as iPods, movie passes, digital cameras, Sony Playstations and Coles/Myer vouchers up to $200 in value.
These Health invoices indicate that taxpayers paid up to $699 for some printer cartridges which are currently advertised for as little as $100, and come from the following areas:
• SYP Community Health Service
• Lower North Health Service
• Cowell Hospital
• Aboriginal Family Clinic
• CNAHS – Hampstead Campus
• Primary Health Care Service – Aboriginal Health Team
• CNAHS – Hillcrest (Aboriginal Outreach Health Services)
• Royal Adelaide Hospital
• Parks Community Health Centre
• SA Dental Service
• Primary Health Care Shop Front Youth Health
“This information confirms the problems are much more widespread in Health than previously indicated,” Mr Lucas said.
“The acceptance of any gift or benefit by a public servant is clearly at the very least a breach of the Public Sector Code of Conduct and the Commissioner for Public Sector Employment Guideline: Gifts and Benefits, and in some circumstances possibly even a criminal offence.”
“The acceptance of any gift or benefit by public sector employees has the potential to secure the influence or favour of an employee in the performance of their duties. The main risk of accepting or offering a gift or benefit is that it may result in an actual or perceived conflict of interest. At the extreme, it could be perceived as a bribe, which is a criminal offence.
It is therefore deemed unacceptable for:
• a public sector employee to solicit or accept any gift of benefit, the receipt of expectation of which might in any way influence, or appear to tend to influence, the employee in his or her official capacity
(Commissioner for Public Sector Employment Guideline: Gifts and Benefits, p3, 2009)
“Given these rorts have been occurring for at least two years, it is a damning indictment of the financial management practices of the Labor Government,” Mr Lucas said.
“It is also unacceptable that there has been no public disclosure either by the Labor Government or the Auditor-General during this time.
“The current investigations are grossly inadequate because they are limited to just eight known Victorian-based suppliers, and only cover the last two to three years. It is known that many other South Australian and interstate-based companies offer similar ‘incentive’ schemes, yet purchases from these companies are not being investigated.
“The only way all these issues can be resolved is if there is a comprehensive independent inquiry by the Auditor-General.
“The Treasurer still hasn’t explained why he won’t direct the Auditor-General under S32 of the Public Finance and Audit Act to conduct such an inquiry.
“It would be embarrassing for Premier Weatherill to now have 10 Government departments implicated in the ‘Cartridgegate’ scandal.”