Auditor-General Simon O’Neill has confirmed to a parliamentary committee that funding to organisations such as Guide Dogs SA had been altered from the amounts approved by Cabinet.
Shadow Finance Minister Rob Lucas said the Auditor-General told the Legislative Council Select Committee on Disability Services Funding organisations had missed out on up to $640,000:
Organisation Cabinet Approval Actual Difference
Guide Dogs SA $640,000 0 $640,000 less
Can Do 4 Kids $640,000 $200,000 $440,000 less
Technical Aid to the Disabled $100,000 0 $100,000 less
Royal Society for the Blind $200,000 $200,000 same
Novita $2,150,000 $2,450,000 $300,000 more
Julia Farr Association $1,270,000 $2,150,000 $880,000 more
“So contrary to Cabinet approval Guide Dogs SA didn’t get $640,000, Can Do 4 Kids didn’t get $440,000 and Technical Aid to the Disabled didn’t get $100,000,” Mr Lucas said.
“Instead the Labor Government hid an extra $880,000 (total $2.15 million) in the accounts of the Julia Farr Association, which is an organisation that doesn’t provide equipment to people with a disability.
“The Department over a period of about two years retrieved the money from where it had been hidden to spend in it later on equipment for people with disabilities.
“The Auditor-General also confirmed he did not agree with this process adopted by the Labor Government and the Department and that if grants were to be changed it should have been taken back to Cabinet for an amended approval.
“The Auditor-General also indicated the Department was unable to provide any advice to Audit staff as to who had advised the Department to distribute funds in a way markedly different to the Cabinet approval.
“The Auditor-General also revealed the original 2007 Cabinet submission did not indicate to Cabinet that significant sums of money were to be hidden or parked in Julia Farr Association accounts and to be retrieved at a later stage to be used by the Department.
“The Auditor-General’s evidence is a damning indictment of sloppy, deceptive and unacceptable financial management controls by the Labor Government.
“The Premier, Mr Rann, and former Minister for Disability Jay Weatherill, must now explain publically whether they were responsible for the decision to distribute funds contrary to Cabinet approval, and if so, their reasons for doing so.”