Premier Rann must explain publicly the background to grants he has paid out of a Special Premier’s Fund.
Evidence given this week by Mr Warren McCann, Chief Executive of the Department of the Premier and Cabinet, to the Legislative Council Budget and Finance Committee confirmed the existence of a Premier’s Special Appeal Fund (minor grants and community grants), which was personally controlled by the Premier.
Liberal Member of the Legislative Council, Rob Lucas, said today it was also confirmed that the Premier did not need to go through any formal committee or panel process before deciding to fund any grant to an organisation.
Grants paid in recent years include:
• $473,000 – Saint Dimitrios Greek Orthodox Parish at Salisbury, for a Cultural and Learning Centre;
• $132,000 – Port Adelaide Football Club, for the Power Community Youth Program; and,
• $3,000 – Afghan Women’s Federation, for weekly sessions on carpet cleaning.
Mr Lucas said that evidence to the Committee confirmed that whilst grants were normally only up to about $3,000, there was no actual upper limit on the level of grant the Premier could give.
“In particular, Mr Rann must explain how this fund could have been used to make a payment as large as $473,000 to the Saint Dimitrios Greek Orthodox Parish, which just happens to fall within his electorate of Ramsay,” Mr Lucas said.
“Whilst the Government claims this funding was used for a ‘Cultural and Learning Centre,’ I have been informed that a significant portion of the grant was actually spent on providing an enormous roof to accommodate an outdoor area.
“Mr Rann needs to explain when he first made the promise to give this grant and when the application for Government support was first made.
“The Budget and Finance Committee has demanded answers from Mr Rann’s own Department on this issue and it has four weeks to provide those answers,” he said.
“There are many concerns about the Premier’s operation of what can be viewed as a ‘political slush fund’ and many questions which remain unanswered.
“The Budget and Finance Committee will continue to probe Mr Rann on this issue and if Mr Rann won’t provide all the required answers, then the Auditor General might have to intervene and look at the operation of this fund.”