Shadow Treasurer Rob Lucas said today that after a 14-month Freedom of Information battle Treasurer Koutsantonis had been forced to admit he had allowed two of his ministerial staffers to fly business class with him to Canada.
In March 2015 Mr Koutsantonis took his media adviser and chief of staff to a four day Prospectors and Developers conference in Canada.
Whilst the total cost of the trip was revealed as $52,000 Mr Koutsantonis refused to provide a detailed breakdown of how this money was spent.
The Government has claimed it discloses on a monthly basis travel expenditure by Ministers, but even this week no details of expenditure from March 2015 are provided on the Government’s website. In fact, when the page is accessed it automatically defaults back to the DTF website.
“After the 14-month battle under FOI it can now be revealed taxpayers paid $21,483 for business class flights for two ministerial staffers to fly return Adelaide-New York-Toronto,” said Mr Lucas.
“This is yet another example of an outrageous waste of taxpayers’ money by Mr Koutsantonis and the Weatherill Government.
“Clearly Mr Koutsantonis and the Government didn’t want this information to be released publicly and they fought so hard to prevent its release.
“This action is also contrary to Government rules outlined by ‘Premier’s Guideline: Air Travel by Ministers and Their Staff”.”
Clause 12 of that guidelines states:
“Ministerial staff are to travel Economy Class unless the airline provides an upgrade at no cost to the Government or otherwise as approved by the Premier’s Chief of Staff”
The FOI documents reveal no details of an approval by the Premier’s Chief of Staff.
Flight details show Mr Koutsantonis and his two staffers arrived in New York at 5pm on Friday 27 Feb and flew out at 6:00pm on Saturday 28 Feb without any appointments in New York.
Therefore, there was no ‘substantial return’ to justify significant additional cost for staff to fly business class.
“This is yet another example of the arrogance of Mr Koutsantonis and the Weatherill Government and he needs to justify why he wasted $21,483 on staff business class travel when he says money is tight and he is cutting critical hospital and school programs,” said Mr Lucas.