Legislative Council: Wednesday, February 22, 2023



Public Sector (Ministerial Travel Reports) Amendment Bill

Introduction and First Reading

The Hon. S.L. GAME (16:22): Obtained leave and introduced a bill for an act to amend the Public Sector Act 2009. Read a first time.

Second Reading

The Hon. S.L. GAME (16:23): I move:

That this bill be now read a second time.

I rise to introduce the Public Sector (Ministerial Travel Reports) Amendment Bill 2023. This is a bill that tells ministers when, not if, they will be held to account for their spending. Why is this bill necessary? I want all ministerial departments to have their travel reporting standardised. There should be transparency, accountability, a standard of detail and a timeliness around spending reports.

I trust everyone in this chamber will support the clear measures outlined in this bill. During a time of rising inflation, rising interest rates and rental and housing crises, South Australians deserve to know that politicians are accountable for their taxpayer dollars. On 14 February, The Advertiser reported on a trip to the United States taken by the Treasurer, one public sector agency employee and one political staffer, and it was estimated that that trip for three people cost South Australian taxpayers $78,000.

Politicians are servants of the people who elect them, and the Treasurer in particular is responsible for spending the money taxpayers give them on the necessities of running the state. The South Australian public is entitled to proper transparency as to how their taxpayer dollars are spent overseas and on interstate trips.

This is one trip in a list of overseas and interstate travel that this government has undertaken within its first years of office: Japan, Korea, United States and Spain. We all want to know how much you are spending and what you are spending it on. This simple amendment calls for all ministers to report on their ministerial travel within 30 days of undertaking travel outside South Australia. They must report on the reason and necessity for travel; the costs of travel, such as transportation, accommodation, food, beverages and activity expenses; and a summary of activities undertaken.

These reports are also applicable to all public sector agency employees and political staffers travelling with the minister. The report must then be laid before the parliament within six sitting days. There may currently be various departmental reporting procedures and bulk annual reports where numbers are thrown together in a one-line summary, or a code of conduct on spending, but they are not legislated and they are not standardised across all ministries.

The difference with this legislation is that it makes those reports specified and timely. Information is to be publicly disclosed in a relevant time frame, and it would expose any discretionary spending. I believe this amendment is the bare minimum the public are entitled to know regarding the interstate and overseas travel expenses of government ministers. It ensures all ministers report to the same standard. One Nation calls for politicians to be accountable to voters, and I believe we should be using taxpayer money frugally and conservatively in regard to travel. This amendment is overdue and I commend this bill to the house.

Debate adjourned on motion of Hon. I.K. Hunter.