The Auditor-General has revealed his shock over an “unprecedented” funding cut to his department – Peter Malinauskas’ decision to do so the first of its kind in state history – that “undermines the Auditor-General’s independence” in another Labor hit on transparency.
Auditor-General Andrew Richardson described the surprise $1.492 million budget cut as “the first I am aware of ever being imposed”.
In a bombshell hearing during Budget and Finance Committee on Monday, the Auditor-General revealed he pleaded with the Malinauskas Labor Government to reverse the huge cut in May.
Peter Malinauskas’ decision to axe funding was made while the Auditor-General was pursuing the Labor Government over secret Cabinet documents relating to its election grant funds program worth $133 million.
Suspiciously, Peter Malinauskas continues to reject requests for the documents by the Auditor-General, who reflected “the change of government has certainly changed the scenario for access”.
The Auditor-General also revealed all Cabinet submissions requested during the four years of the previous Liberal Government were released.
He also emphatically supported Labor’s legislative move in Western Australia to increase their Auditor-General’s powers with better access to Cabinet documents.
Shadow Treasurer Matt Cowdrey said it is clear the Malinauskas Labor Government is making moves to “kneecap the powers of the Auditor-General”.
“We have a concerning situation on our hands where Peter Malinauskas is intentionally withholding information from the Auditor-General and making moves to curtail his powers,” he said.
“This is another clear Labor hit on transparency so Peter Malinauskas can do what he wants.
“We are moving in a dangerous direction under Peter Malinausaks and the final destination looks like a more secret South Australia.”
Shadow Minister for Sport, Recreation and Racing, Vincent Tarzia, called on the Malinauskas Labor Government to finally release the documents and restore funding to the Auditor-General’s Department.
“We have an extraordinary situation here where the independent Auditor-General is not only being denied the ability to do his job but is copping budget cuts in what appears to be a state first,” Mr Tarzia said.
“The Malinauskas Labor Government is working hard to keep its Cabinet documents secret, and the alarm bells are ringing.
“What is Peter Malinauskas trying to hide and why?”
Embarrassingly, Labor’s Upper House member Reggie Martin had to be corrected over multiple inaccuracies during the Committee.