Shadow Treasurer Rob Lucas said today another leak of a confidential Cabinet submission, this time one signed by Treasurer Koutsantonis, is a major embarrassment for Premier Weatherill and his government.
This leaked submission was signed by Treasurer Koutsantonis on 4 August 2014 and related to the controversial issue of the resignation of the former Small Business Commissioner Michael Sinkunas.
This leak followed the leak last month of Premier Weatherill’s submission which approved the payment of $1.25 million for the Rolling Stones concert.
These leaked confidential Cabinet submissions are yet another sign of leadership instability and of a divided and dysfunctional government.
This Cabinet submission includes a copy of the ‘Deed Discharge and Release’ agreement between Mr.Koutsantonis and Mr.Sinkunas which indicates the total cost to taxpayers would be $296,500.42 plus accrued entitlements to recreation,long service and retention leave.
The submission also notes;
- formal investigation into allegations of improper conduct by Mr.Sinkunas commenced April 2014
- on 6 June Mr.Sinkunas went on special leave with pay
- on 25 July Mr.Sinkunas submitted resignation letter to Mr.Koutsantonis
- on 29 July Mr.Koutsantonis accepted the resignation and executed the deed
- on 4 August Mr.Koutsantonis took the submission to Cabinet
In return for the gross payment of $296,000 Mr.Koutsantonis required Mr.Sinkunas to agree to ‘not at any time make any disparaging statements’ about Mr.Koutsantonis and others involved!
The deed also required Mr Koutsantonis to;
“not voluntarily make any statement about Mr Sinkunas and the circumstances of his resignation and the detail of this Deed ,Discharge and Release. The parties note that if the Minister is required to respond to a question relating to the circumstances of the resignation of Mr.Sinkunas and/or the detail of this Deed, Discharge and Release, he must answer any such questions truthfully.”
“Given that Mr.Koutsantonis told parliament on 5 August 2014 that Mr Sinkunas had resigned from his position why did taxpayers have to pay a total cost of $296,000 for his ‘severance package’?”, said Mr Lucas.
“If Mr.Sinkunas did resign or retire as Mr.Koutsantonis told Parliament then taxpayers should not have to pay for any massive severance package.
“Mr.Koutsantonis must now be accountable and explain why he made the payment and the results of the investigation of improper conduct. He should also explain why he required Mr.Sinkunas to not make ‘disparaging comments’ about him as part of the settlement agreement.
“This is yet another example of a massive waste of taxpayers’ money at a time when the government continues to cut critical hospital services around the state.
“The fact that confidential Cabinet submissions on controversial issues are now regularly being leaked to the Liberal Party is an indication that senior public servants share that anger at the government.”