Finance Minister O’Brien must publicly explain why he tried to keep secret the extent of Treasury officers’ involvement in ‘Cartridge-gate following Under Treasurer Brett Rowse’s damning evidence to the Legislative Council Budget and Finance Committee.
Mr Rowse confirmed eight Treasury officers had been identified as buying printer cartridges (some at inflated prices) from suspect companies before July 2009 and that senior Treasury officers became aware of this around July 2010.
“This means senior Treasury officers were aware of the problem at least 14 months prior to it being publicly raised in the Budget and Finance Committee in September last year,” Shadow Finance Minister Rob Lucas said today.
“However, Mr O’Brien’s Ministerial Statement to Parliament on 13 March this year makes no mention of this and no mention at all of the extent of Treasury officers’ involvement in the ‘Cartridgegate’ scandal.
“In fact, the report tabled by Mr O’Brien lists ‘NIL’ for DTF when identifying the extent of problems in agencies and any action that might have been taken.”
Mr Rowse’s evidence also noted:
• SAPOL, the Crown Solicitor’s Office and the Auditor-General were not asked to investigate possible offences
• No disciplinary action was taken against any officers
• No establishment of committees such as the Procurement Working Group, which was eventually established in November 2011.
• Only two of the eight Treasury officers implicated were questioned by senior officers because five staff had left Treasury
• No government-wide restriction on purchases from these suspect companies was implemented at the time
“It is now clear that if decisive action had been taken back in July 2010, hundreds of thousands of dollars would not have been wasted on these cartridges,” Mr Lucas said.
“This is now a major embarrassment for the Weatherill Labor Government, and Minister O’Brien stands condemned for not revealing the full extent of Treasury officers’ involvement in ‘Cartridgegate’.”