State spends $100,000 on 25 drones

The West Australian - - NEWS - Dy­lan Ca­porn

State Govern­ment agen­cies have bought 25 drones in just 10 months at a cost to tax­pay­ers of more than $100,000, re­sponses to par­lia­men­tary ques­tions have re­vealed.

De­spite moves to tighten pub­lic sec­tor spend­ing, 10 agen­cies and de­part­ments have jus­ti­fied the ex­pen­di­ture on aerial sur­veil­lance tech­nol­ogy in an­swers to ques­tions asked by Dawesville MP Zak Kirkup.

As well as $60,000 on drones, agen­cies spent $37,000 on ac­ces­sories, in­clud­ing bat­ter­ies, cases, spare pro­pel­lers and tablets.

One-third of the to­tal ($36,526) was spent by the Depart­ment of Bio­di­ver­sity, Con­ser­va­tion and At­trac­tions, which bought seven drones, in­clud­ing one val­ued close to $8400. Stan­dard drones sell for about $1000 to $1500. The depart­ment said drones were used to de­ter­mine for­est in­ven­tory and con­di­tions, and mon­i­tor bilby pop­u­la­tions in the Pil­bara and fauna on Dirk Har­tog Is­land.

The Depart­ment of Cor­rec­tive Ser­vices bought a $689 drone for “train­ing pur­poses” to en­hance ca­pa­bil­ity to ob­serve pris­ons dur­ing emer­gen­cies.

A spokes­woman for the Water Cor­po­ra­tion, which spent $18,000 on drones, said a fur­ther $6000 was spent on train­ing for two em­ploy­ees.

Mr Kirkup said it was a sig­nif­i­cant ex­pen­di­ture in a small amount of time.

“The Govern­ment should jus­tify what is ac­tu­ally a gen­uine need and what is a tax­payer­funded toy pur­chased for the en­joy­ment of pub­lic ser­vants,” he said.

Premier Mark Mc­Gowan said the pur­chases were jus­ti­fied.

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