In stunning evidence to a parliamentary committee, Renewal SA executives have admitted the probity auditor for the controversial Gillman land deal was not appointed until after many of the key meetings with the sole bidder had been conducted.
Premier Weatherill and Minister Koutsantonis have defended the Gillman land deal not going to competitive tender with the argument an independent probity auditor had monitored the whole process.
On 8 July 2014, Mr Weatherill told ABC radio:
“… I would have been crazy not to have looked at that carefully and that’s what we did, a number of months were taken, Probity Auditor was put in place…”
However, Renewal SA Acting CEO Trudi Meakins has admitted the Probity Auditor BDO was not appointed until 22 October 2013 which was only 22 days before the Renewal SA Board was asked to vote to support the proposal.
“Ms Meakins’ evidence made it clear that after Mr Weatherill’s initial meeting with Adelaide Capital Partners (ACP) in June 2013 there were many meetings between ACP and Renewal SA before the probity auditor was eventually appointed,” said Shadow Treasurer Rob Lucas.
The critical need for a probity auditor is highlighted by the Renewal SA Board decision on 20 November 2013 when they voted against the government’s proposal. This resolution urged the government to support a competitive tender process and noted some key risks including:
“The probity of accepting an unsolicited offer for the subject land and the potential for industry/community dissatisfaction with Renewal SA facilitating the sale of the subject land through a non-competitive process.”
“The usual practice with appointing a probity auditor would be to appoint them at the start of the process so they can provide advice all the way on probity issues and then monitor the process from a probity perspective,” said Mr Lucas.
“Clearly this was not possible with the Gillman deal given the delay in appointing a probity auditor.
“Mr Weatherill must now explain why a Probity Auditor was not appointed until just before the final consideration and advice by the Renewal SA Board.”