Premier Rann’s promise after the election that he had “heard the message” and would “reconnect” with the community has been exposed as nothing more than a cruel hoax and political spin.
After the first year of the new Parliament the Rann Government has refused to answer almost 3,000 questions on notice in the Parliament, some of which had first been asked eight years ago in December 2002.
“Whilst official records have not been kept, it is clear the Rann Government has set another record for having the most unanswered questions ever at the end of a Parliamentary year,” Shadow Minister for Finance Rob Lucas said today.
“As at December 2010 there were 1,448 unanswered questions on notice to Rann Government Ministers on the Legislative Council Notice Paper and 1,442 unanswered questions on notice from the House of Assembly, giving a total of 2,890.
“In fact since the election the Rann Government has only answered 10 questions out of 350 new questions, or only an embarrassing three per cent of new questions or 0.3 per cent of the total questions asked.
“This is an increasingly arrogant Rann Government snubbing its nose at any pretext of Parliamentary accountability by simply refusing to answer important questions.
“It is obvious Mr Rann didn’t really “hear the message” he was given at the last election that people wanted less political spin and more transparency and accountability.
“This refusal to answer questions, together with increasing restrictions on FOI requests and limiting sitting days of Parliament, mean the Rann Government has become the most secretive government in this State’s history.
“The only option available to the Parliament would now appear to be passing changes to Parliamentary Standing Orders to require answers within a specified period of three days, as occurs in a number of other Parliaments.”
Examples of some of the many questions unanswered by the Rann Government include:
• Details of frequent flyer point usage by Ministers;
• Details of long-service leave liability including the highest level of untaken leave for any employee;
• Details of public servants who had received separation packages, then being re-employed as contractors;
• Details of Ministers’ overseas travel including costs being met by departments and not the Ministerial office budget as well as whether staff or Ministers extended travel for private purposes;
• Details of Thinkers in Residence programs, government advertising costs, short term contract and trainee positions;
• Details of waiting times and lists at hospitals as well as number of public hospital beds; and,
• Long term plans and timeline for upgrade of Victor Harbor Road.
“Increasingly, Members of Parliament have had to resort to using FOI laws or Parliamentary Committees to try to get answers to some of these many unanswered questions,” Mr Lucas said.
“For decades, governments in South Australia – both Labor and Liberal – had generally responded to most questions on notice within a reasonable time frame.
“However, the Rann Government is the first government ever to just decide to refuse to answer thousands of questions for up to eight years.
“It is obvious that the Rann Government has something to hide and is desperate to cover up embarrassing information from becoming public.
“Mr Rann and his Ministers should now explain publicly why they have broken their commitment to be open and accountable.”
After all, it was Mr Rann who said in his 2002 Plan for Honesty in Government:
“We will lift standards of honesty, accountability and transparency in Government.”
“Secrecy can provide the cover behind which waste, wrong priorities, dishonesty and serious abuse of public office may occur.”
“A good Government does not fear scrutiny or openness.”