Shadow Treasurer Rob Lucas today accused Premier Weatherill of sneaky and deceptive conduct in breaching government guidelines prior to the election to conceal the fact he was planning to privatise the MAC.
In evidence provided by the Treasury CEO to the Budget and Finance Committee it has been confirmed that on 7 March 2013 the Weatherill Government appointed consultant UBS AG Australia to advise on the privatisation of the MAC. The cost of the consultancy was $106,789.
However, Mr Weatherill, as Treasurer, did not reveal the details of this appointment in his Treasury Annual Report which was released in late 2013 and just prior to the State Election.
In fact Mr Weatherill and Treasury were sneaky and deceptive in hiding the cost of this work in the following reference to the total costs for the Forestry SA privatisation!
Consultant (>$50k) Work Undertaken
UBS AG Sales advice for the advertisement of Forestry SA cutting rights project
DTF Annual Report pg. 101
Treasury CEO Brett Rowse confirmed to the Budget and Finance Committee in a letter dated 13/8/2014 that:
“UBS AG was also the sale advisor for the divestment of forestry cutting rights and the invoice for the MAC consultancy was aggregated in the Annual Report along with several other invoices from UBS for the forestry divestment.”
This is simple blatant deception as the MAC privatisation clearly has no connection at all with the privatisation of Forestry SA.
Mr Weatherill was obviously very concerned that his secret plans to privatise MAC not be revealed before the election, especially as he was promising everybody that he would not be privatising assets if he won the election.
Mr Weatherill and Treasury’s actions are a clear breach of the Government’s own rules on what should be published about spending on consultants.
DPC Circular PC013 on Annual Reporting Requirements makes it clear that:
“Agencies are required to report on the extent to which they have engaged external consultants, the nature of the work undertaken by the consultant and the total cost to the agency of the consultancies.
“In the ranges above $10,000 agency should name each consulting firm and provide a brief summary of the services for which they were engaged.”
The Treasury CEO also revealed that:
• KPMG was paid $100K before the election to consider the privatisation of SA Water and that was detailed in the DTF Annual Report as ‘scoping study for potential asset divestment’; and,
• Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu was paid $145k before the election to consider the privatisation of HomeStart and that was detailed in the DTF Annual Report as ‘Provision of strategic advice to Market Project unit’.
“Mr Weatherill stands condemned for gross hypocrisy as he was secretly paying consultants hundreds of thousands of dollars before the election to look at privatising MAC, SA Water and HomeStart when publicly promising no privatisation,” said Mr Lucas.