A former Fairfax Media columnist was paid $1,500 by South Australian taxpayers to write Mr Weatherill’s first major speech after becoming Premier.
The speech was delivered by Mr Weatherill to the ALP state convention the day after he took over the premiership from Mike Rann in October 2011.
The Legislative Council Budget and Finance Committee heard from DPC executives yesterday that communications agency Cohorts, owned by former Australian Financial Review columnist Jacqueline McArthur, was employed to write the speech.
Shadow Health Minister Rob Lucas said information obtained by the Liberal Party showed Ms McArthur was paid for 15 hours work at $98 per hour to write the single speech.
“This is yet another example of Labor’s waste and Mr Weatherill’s warped priorities,” said Mr Lucas.
“He has a team of media advisors and spin doctors including a full-time speech writer and yet he wastes taxpayers’ money by employing a NSW based speechwriter to write a speech for him to deliver to the Labor faithful at a Labor Convention.
“At a time of cuts and ever-increasing cost of living pressures, South Australian families will be very angry when they hear Premier Weatherill wasted money on an interstate consultant writing his Labor convention speech.”
In other evidence to the Committee:
• $2,500 was paid to Write On Consulting to run ‘essay writing workshops’ for public servants in DPC. .
• Department of Premier and Cabinet Chief Executive Jim Hallion was unable to say how much money was spent on consultant McPhee Andrewartha, used to investigate a complaint against a senior executive.
• It was revealed the public servant in DPC who spent $80,000 on printer cartridges at inflated prices and received personal benefits has resigned. There was no dismissal and there has been no prosecution.
• DPC executives would not answer whether a consultant, Mark Priadko, employed by them, had reported that the Art Gallery had spent bequests/donations money on operational costs.
• Mr Hallion could not say who was paying for $800 supermarket vouchers being promoted on government links to Premier Weatherill’s Facebook page.
• Mr Hallion confirmed the Executive Director of the Don Dunstan Foundation is part of DPC’s head count and paid by DPC.