An increase in the number of unanswered parliamentary questions on notice demonstrates the Labor Government is just as secretive and unaccountable under Premier Weatherill as former Premier Mike Rann.
As at the end of this year, the Labor Government has refused to answer 3158 questions on notice, with the oldest dating back to July 2002 – 268 more than at the end of 2010.
“Premier Jay Weatherill’s promise to ‘change the way we govern’ under his leadership was nothing more than political spin,” Shadow Finance Minister Rob Lucas said.
“When he was elevated to Premier, Mr Weatherill said it was ‘an opportunity for us to leave the past behind and present something different for the future’, but all we are getting is the same old tired spin and lack of transparency and accountability.
“On 9 November 2011, Premier Weatherill told Parliament:
“Certainly, all of the questions that will be asked of us will be given proper answers.. we will strive to give information to the House, as I always have.”
“However, Mr Weatherill’s record as a Minister shows he has refused to answer questions for years just like Mr Rann and all other Labor Ministers.
“Since 2002, Mr Weatherill has refused to answer 172 questions on notice, with the oldest dating back to 2003. Questions Mr Weatherill has refused to answer include:
• Employment outcomes and details of housing and health projects on APY Lands;
• Details of expenditure on renovations to the Minister’s office and the purchase of any furniture with a value greater than $500;
• Details of frequent flyer point usage;
• Details of overseas travel including places visited and the purpose of each visit as well as whether staff or Mr Weatherill extended travel for private purposes
“Since being elected nearly a decade ago, the Labor Government has answered less than half of the questions on notice asked in the Parliament – just 46.2%.”
There are now 1531 unanswered questions in the House of Assembly and 1627 in the Legislative Council on issues ranging from details of Ministers’ overseas travel costs to contact with lobbyists:
“Never before in the history of this state has a Government decided to just refuse to answer thousands of questions for up to nearly a decade,” Mr Lucas said.
“Mr Weatherill needs to explain publicly why his Government refuses to answer so many questions on notice and is so desperate to cover up embarrassing information from becoming public.”
Mr Lucas said the refusal to answer questions was indicative of a widespread culture of secrecy, and that Freedom of Information requests were also not being processed as they should.
“The ongoing printer cartridge scandal, ‘Cartridgegate’ with the refusal to release documents under Freedom of Information and failure to launch a truly independent Auditor-General Inquiry, shows just how far the Labor Government will go to conceal embarrassing information.
“In the words of Mr Rann in his 2002 Plan for Honesty in Government, ‘a good Government does not fear scrutiny or openness.
“The solution to the problem may well be for the Parliament to require answers to questions within 30 days as occurs in most other parliaments.”