Shadow Finance Minister Rob Lucas has written to the Auditor-General advising him he believes senior Treasury officers concealed the fact they had been aware of ‘Cartridgegate’ abuses for almost 18 months.
“Information provided to the Liberal Party indicates that senior Treasury officers were aware of significant abuses by Treasury officers as long ago as June/July 2010,” Mr Lucas said.
“This information indicates that up to eight DTF officers were involved and a significant number of invoices showing inflated prices for printer cartridges were discovered. Some of these invoices made it clear that gifts/benefits had been provided as part of the purchase.”
Mr Lucas’ letter to the Auditor-General states:
“I am informed that even though these abuses were confirmed DTF did not refer the matter to SAPOL or the Auditor-General for further investigation, and no disciplinary inquiry was initiated into any of the officers involved.
I am also informed that DTF and the Government did not issue a general warning to all departments and agencies similar to the one issued on 21 September 2011 by Department of Premier and Cabinet Chief Executive Jim Hallion after I first raised this issue with him in the Budget and Finance Committee on that date.
In fact, Mr Hallion as DPC Chief Executive indicated on that day that he knew nothing about these procurement abuses.
I am alarmed that on the basis of this information the Government and DTF have known about these extensive abuses since June/July 2010 and yet took no substantive sector-wide action until I raised these issues in September 2011.
This lack of action by Government and DTF in my view has allowed the abuses to continue unchecked for almost 18 months at considerable cost to the taxpayers of South Australia.
I am also now concerned that the Government’s reluctance to ask you through the Treasurer to conduct an independent inquiry under the Public Finance and Audit Act is because they do not want all of these details to be revealed publicly.”
“Mr Weatherill’s handling of this scandal has been weak and insipid. It would appear he is afraid of what an independent Auditor-General’s inquiry would reveal.
“It is now time for the Auditor-General to commence his own inquiry into ‘Cartridgegate’, irrespective of the Government’s reluctance for him to do so.”