Shadow Treasurer Rob Lucas said today Premier Weatherill and Treasurer Koutsantonis had been caught out deliberately concealing the real number of spin doctors and Ministerial staff in Ministerial offices.
After an almost two year battle under FOI laws the Government was forced to release copies of “Confidential Ministers’ Directories” which list all staff in their offices as at December 2014 and March 2015.
These documents reveal that there are between 260 and 270 spin doctors and other staff in Minister’s offices. This number does not include 14 ministerial chauffeurs and staff located in Minister’s electorate offices.
However, the Government’s Budget Papers claim there are only 164 staff located in 14 Minister’s offices.
For example the official Budget Papers claim the Minister for Education only has 11 staff yet there is actually 23 staff! Mr Koutsantonis claims in his Budget Papers he has 15 staff but there are actually 21 staff listed in the directory.
The Budget and Finance Committee has been pursuing this issue and the Department of Communities and Social Inclusion has now admitted it is paying an extra $722,000 for 7.5 FTE extra staff to go into the offices of Ministers Piccolo, Bettison and Gago.
The highest paid Ministerial staffer appears to be paid a package of $194,333 plus private plated car, computer and other benefits.
“The Government needs to explain why Ministers like Gago, Piccolo and Hunter can justify having 20 or 21 staff in their offices,” said Mr Lucas.
“Mr Weatherill and Mr Koutsantonis need to explain why they have tried to conceal the true number of staff in the Budget Papers. It is now time for the Government to be transparent and accountable rather than play childish political games.
“This is yet another example of the warped priorities of the Weatherill Government. At a time when Mr Weatherill and Mr Koutsantonis are closing the Repat Hospital and cutting hospital emergency departments, they need to explain how they can continue to waste millions of dollars on excessive numbers of spin doctors and Ministerial staff.”