Libs accused of spending $100m on consultancy fees
THE State Government plans to spend more than $100 million on consultants over the next four years, and has already budgeted almost $35 million for them in 2018-19, according to figures compiled by the Opposition.
Labor has crunched the numbers from State Budget documents and the Government’s own announcements, and says $103.49 million has been earmarked for consultants through to 2021-22.
They say this tally will likely increase because it does not include all consultancy costs racked up by individual departments over the course of each year. Those costs are only revealed in the Auditor-General’s annual report at the end of each financial year.
Included in the $103 million figure is a bus review and studies into the Women’s and Children’s Hospital, Tonsley train station, and an Aboriginal art gallery. Of this fouryear total, the Government intends to spend just under $35 million in 2018-19, when factoring in a notional figure for the KordaMentha health report into the new Royal Adelaide Hospital.
Labor, which was criticised for its own consultancy costs while in power, has accused the Government of failing to live up to its promise to reduce its outlay in this area.
However, the Government rejects the claim, saying the Opposition used to hide millions of dollars in consultancy costs through tricky bookwork when it ran the state.
In 2017-18, the government – which was Labor until the March election – spent $33 million on consultants, down from $42 million in the previous 12 months, according to the Auditor-General’s 2017-18 annual report.
Opposition treasury spokesman Stephen Mullighan, pictured, said the Government had “got its priorities wrong”.
But Treasurer Rob Lucas said the Auditor-General’s figures were skewed, saying the former Labor government “used to conceal some payments to consultants by classifying them as contractors”.
Mr Lucas said Labor paid $349 million for contractors and consultants in 2017-18 and $336 million the year before.
But there was no way to determine how much was spent on contractors, such as cleaners and bus service providers, and how much may have been spent on consultants.