Premier Rann should be required to justify why he no longer reports publicly on the extent of taxpayer subsidies per seat sold to the State Opera.
In evidence to the Legislative Council’s Budget and Finance Committee, Chief Executive of Arts SA, Greg Mackie, this week denied any knowledge of the reasons why the material was now not publicly available but had assured the Committee he would bring back a response.
Liberal Member of the Legislative Council, Rob Lucas, said today that for many years governments have been transparent and accountable for the level of taxpayer subsidies through the Auditor General’s Report, as follows:
Year Level of grant subsidy per seat sold (AG Report)
1997-98 $ 57.00
1998-99 $ 87.00
1999-00 $ 32.00
2000-01 $ 35.00
2001-02 $ 111.00
2002-03 $ 51.00
2003-04 $ 159.00
2004-05 $ 340.00
“This table shows that the level of taxpayer subsidy has grown significantly from just $35 in 2000-01 to $340 in 2004-05, or an increase of almost 900 per cent!” Mr Lucas said.
“However, mysteriously, this public reporting has now disappeared and the Auditor General’s report from 2005-06 no longer reports on the level of this subsidy. The Annual Reports of the State Opera also didn’t report on this level of taxpayer subsidy.
“It would appear there has been a deliberate policy change taken under the Rann Government to prevent public accountability on this issue.”
Mr Lucas said that part of the reason for the significant jump in subsidy might be the staging of the second Ring Cycle; however, the first Ring Cycle that concluded in the late 1990s didn’t lead to a similar sized increase.
“Whilst the community will probably accept some level of taxpayer subsidy for State Opera seats, it is unlikely there would be strong support for subsidies of up to $340 per seat,” he said.
“It is up to Mr Rann to justify the current level of taxpayer subsidy as opposed to some further increase in ticket prices.
“Whatever the level of taxpayer subsidy, there could be no justification at all for not being transparent and publicly accountable on the level of taxpayer subsidy.”