February 8, 2018

Government reporting failures raise secrecy questions

The McGowan Government is failing in its fundamental reporting responsibilities, according to Shadow Minister for Government Accountability Tjorn Sibma.

Mr Sibma said the State Government had failed to meet key reporting deadlines, avoiding scrutiny of its expenditure on consultants and travel costs, and on prisoner numbers and crime rates.

“For a Government that campaigned hard on a mantra of gold-standard accountability and a promise to slash Government costs, the Ministers of the McGowan Government are making it very hard for the public to measure their success or failure,” Mr Sibma said.

“The Government has missed both the June 2017 and December 2017 deadlines to present its Report on Consultants Engaged by Government, has missed all three quarterly deadlines to report on Government and public sector travel, has missed all three quarterly reporting deadlines for prison statistics and is now overdue on reporting the latest crime statistics.

“These reports are all pointers to the performance of the Government in key areas of accountability and it’s not hard to reach the conclusion that the Ministers responsible have something to hide.”

Mr Sibma said the McGowan Government had convened more than 70 committees, inquiries, reviews and the like in the 10 months since it was elected so the Opposition was very keen to scrutinise its expenditure on consultants.

“Mark McGowan promised to ‘take a machete’ to the public sector and the public deserve to know that the cohort of very experienced public servants that have left since he took Government have not simply been replaced with expensive, inexperienced external consultants,” Mr Sibma said.

“The lack of any reporting on ministerial spending on travel also raises alarm bells.

“While the Education Minister is making mean-spirited penny-pinching cuts to essential rural education resources such as residential colleges we are seeing the Premier and his ministers travelling overseas and interstate regularly with an entourage of advisors.”

Mr Sibma said especially concerning among the reporting omissions was the failure of the Minister for Corrective Service Fran Logan to table any reports on the current prison estate, especially given recent reports of severe overcrowding.

“Providing transparency around the operations of prisons and the welfare of prisoners is a core responsibility of the Minister for Corrective Service,” Mr Sibma said.

“I don’t want to even want to speculate on why Minister Logan has failed at this hurdle.”

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