Posted on: 19 May 2023
Ground-breaking legislation that will arm the Auditor-General with more power to obtain government documents has passed the Upper House, despite desperate attempts from Peter Malinauskas and Labor to boycott transparency and accountability.
The Opposition’s Public Finance and Audit (Auditor-General Access to Cabinet Submissions) Amendment Bill 2022 passed the Upper House last night with the full support of the cross bench.
The Upper House rejected Attorney-General Kyam Maher’s excuse that “cabinet solidarity and confidentiality” was more important than transparency and accountability.
“We will not be supporting this bill,” Mr Maher said.
The legislation is in line with similar Bills introduced by other Labor and Liberal state governments last year, and is crucial following Peter Malinauskas’ suspicious move to reject multiple requests from the Auditor-General for Cabinet documents relating to Labor’s grant funds program worth $133 million.
The legislation - which will now be moved to the Lower House - will allow the Auditor-General to gain access to documents without the need for approval from the government of the day or Leader of the Opposition. The legislation will apply retrospectively.
Shadow Treasurer Matt Cowdrey described the Bill’s passing in the Upper House as a “huge win for transparency and accountability”.
“If Peter Malinauskas does not support this Bill in the Lower House, it is a dirty stain on his credibility when it comes to Labor's transparency,” Mr Cowdrey said.
“But this legislation is about transparency and accountability of all governments - this isn’t just aimed at Peter Malinauskas and Labor, it’s a new standard for all political parties to strive for generations to come.
“Transparency in government is a good thing and should be welcomed by all. The independent Auditor-General needs freedom to do his job and investigate things he believes could be fishy or warrant deeper inspection.
“It’s bizarre that Peter Malinauskas is trying to hide his election grants documents from the Auditor-General. If there is nothing to hide, there is no issue.
“We challenge Peter Malinauskas to support this Bill in the Lower House - anything less is a clear indication that Labor wants South Australia to be a secret state.”