Shadow Treasurer Rob Lucas said today there needed to be tougher restrictions and controls on millions of dollars being spent by the Weatherill Government on contractors.
Consolidated information over five years supplied by Treasury to the Budget and Finance Committee shows the Government spent more than $3 billion on contractors. Annual expenditure on contractors varied from $570 million in 2010/11 up to $726m in 2012/13.
However, the Weatherill Government provides no detail in the budget papers or in departmental annual reports on which contractors are winning contracts and what they are being paid.
“Taxpayers have no way of knowing whether they are getting value for money for the billions of dollars being spent on contracts,” said Mr Lucas.
“At the very least departments should be required to include in their annual reports details on names of contractors, work being undertaken and payments being recorded.
“Currently, the only way any detail is being provided is as a result of information being gathered by questions at the Budget and Finance Committee.
“Curiously, the Government requires departments to provide some of this information in their annual reports for the $25m per year being spent on consultants, but not for the more than $600m per year being spent on contractors.
“This has led to Ministers and departments playing games by reclassifying some consultants as contractors and preventing information being recorded publicly.
“For example in 2013/14 DPC hid payments of $83,000 to consultants Essential Media Communications under the ‘contractor’ banner even though they subsequently admitted in evidence to the Budget and Finance Committee they had been employed to provide ‘consultancy services’.
“This lack of control over contractor expenditure is indicative of the financial mismanagement and incompetence that has characterised 13 years of Labor Government.”