Shadow Minister for Finance Rob Lucas today called on Premier Rann to introduce new controls of accountability on Ministers’ spending on overseas travel.
“As a first step Ministers should be required to provide details of total costs, purpose and results of each overseas trip on the government website,” Mr Lucas said.
“It’s ironic that Mr Rann has taken 27 overseas trips since 2002, but his recent trip to the USA and UK is the only trip he is required to produce a travel report as the trip was taken under the MPs’ travel allowance.
“All MPs are currently required to provide details and costs of their travel on the Parliament’s website or publicly available reports but Ministers have no similar accountability requirements,” he said. “Other states including Victoria require similar accountability from their Ministers for any overseas travel, but South Australia under Mr Rann does not.
“Ministers and MPs should also be required to account publicly for frequent flyer points accumulated with a report presented to State Parliament, as occurs in the Federal Parliament.
“In fact, Mr Rann and Mr Foley had refused for three years now to answer questions in Parliament about frequent flyer points collected since 2002 from travel by Rann Government Ministers.
“The reality is, Mr Rann and Mr Foley have taken in excess of 55 overseas trips as well as countless interstate trips earning millions of frequent flyer points.
“In fact, the only way for the Opposition to hold to account the extravagant expenses incurred by Rann Government Ministers while overseas is through the laborious Freedom of Information process.
“Mr Foley has been asked several times to explain what Ministerial business he was conducting in August 2008 in New York’s “A-Lister” nightclub Whiskey Blue, charging drinks at taxpayers’ expense at 1:30am.
“Other changes to accountability arrangements could also include travel guidelines being amended to require Ministers and MPs to spend more days on Parliamentary business than personal leave.
“Mr Foley was last year embroiled in controversy when he travelled to the USA as the local MP for Port Adelaide; he spent only one day in Parliamentary business meetings and eight days on “personal” leave.
“The Opposition has always supported reasonable travel and travel-related expenses by Ministers and MPs.
“However, some of these expense claims are unreasonable and excessive and there is no argument against the need for public accountability when taxpayers’ money is being expended.
“Put simply, if there is nothing to hide, then Mr Rann, Mr Foley and others should have no problems in agreeing to new accountability controls for Ministerial overseas travel.”