Credit cards were problem in PM’s office
- From: AAP
- May 14, 2012
FIVE government officials, including two in former Labor prime minister Kevin Rudd’s department, have been axed over credit card rule breaches in the past three years, new figures show.
Liberal MP Jamie Briggs uncovered the rorts through a parliamentary question on notice to Prime Minister Julia Gillard and other ministers.
In the first instance in 2009, a prime minister’s department official breached the department’s credit card guidelines 11 times, was suspended and repaid $2494.
The second official breached the rules twice and paid back $295.
Both investigations found the public service code of conduct had been breached and sanctions were recommended.
“Both employees were terminated at their request before sanctions could be imposed,” the prime minister said in her answer.
The Defence Department said three of its employees had resigned before action could be taken against them.
It reported that in 2008/09 the credit card guidelines were breached 51 times, to a total value of $89,718.49.
One person breached the rules 35 times.
In 2009/10 the defence department identified 83 breaches to the tune of $32,314.85, and the figure for 2010/11 was $37,183.10 from 91 breaches.
The department said it had improved its fraud recovery and audit controls in February 2011, with credit card use now being detected faster and case numbers on the decline.
The resources department identified $12,715.64 over 29 breaches of credit card rules from mid-2008 to mid-2011.
Resources Minister Martin Ferguson said that in all cases the cardholders were warned and invoices issued for recovery of the funds.
In one instance, involving over $10,500 in 2009/10, the resource department employee was prosecuted and sacked.
Mr Briggs said today the figures also showed that since Labor took office in 2007, departmental credit card expenditure had more than doubled.
“Now we are finding out that there has been a number of lapses in the legitimate use of taxpayer-funded credit cards under the Rudd/Gillard government,” Mr Briggs said.
“The fact that staff are being terminated from the prime minister’s own department over the use of credit cards is concerning.”
He said a coalition government would undertake a thorough investigation of the use of departmental credit cards.
The agriculture department reported 64 breaches over the three-year period from 2008, with 14 officials counselled for breaches totalling $7309.
The communications department reported 19 breaches over the period 2008-2011, with cardholders being counselled on each occasion and the money repaid.
In the attorney-general’s department there have been 30 breaches of credit guidelines from 2008-2011.
Officials were counselled on the guidelines and money was repaid where necessary.