PIRSA has appointed a private investigator to help investigate the ‘Cartridgegate’ scandal in its department, it was revealed to the Legislative Council Budget and Finance Committee today.
The private investigator is Peter Warner, a former police officer who served in the South Australian and Northern Territory police forces, and runs the private investigation firm Warner and Associates.
However, PIRSA executives confirmed they would need to check whether a private investigator had the legal authority to require public servants to answer questions or produce documents.
Senior PIRSA finance executive Steve Archer told the committee they had discovered 134 toner invoices since January 2007 from the companies under investigation.
Mr Archer said more than 20 staff had been involved in either purchasing the cartridges or giving approvals for the purchases. He also admitted a number involved gifts or benefits and they hadn’t yet established how many of these had been provided to public servants at their home addresses.
“The reality is departments like PIRSA have been forced into spending taxpayers’ money on private investigators because Premier Weatherill has been so weak in his response to the growing ‘Cartridgegate’ scandal,” Shadow Finance Minister Rob Lucas said.
“Months ago now Premier Weatherill should have ensured the Treasurer directed the Auditor-General under the Public Finance and Audit Act to conduct a comprehensive and independent inquiry.
“The Auditor-General clearly has the power to require public servants to answer questions and provide documents whereas well-intentioned private investigators probably don’t.
“In addition the Auditor-General would be able to conduct an inquiry of all departments and agencies rather than the current situation where either public servants within departments or private investigators are conducting inquiries.
“The real question now is what has Premier Weatherill and his Government got to hide and why won’t they appoint the Auditor-General to conduct an independent inquiry?”