Malinauskas’ state of secrecy with $20 billion blocked from scrutiny

Malinauskas’ state of secrecy with $20 billion blocked from scrutiny

Posted on: 26 October 2023

The Auditor General has revealed he has been unable to determine whether more than $20 billion worth of key South Australian projects – including the new Women’s and Children’s Hospital and the North-South Corridor project - were “conducted properly and in accordance with law”.

In an explosive annual report tabled in Parliament, Andrew Richardson detailed how the Malinauskas Labor Government has prevented him from accessing necessary documentation to “conclude on whether transactions were undertaken properly and in compliance with law”.

This includes business cases prepared “on the grounds that they were Cabinet documents”.

At the time of the report, the Auditor General had not received any of the documents he requested.

Under questioning in Parliament’s Budget and Finance Committee this week, Mr Richardson said it’s the first time since the Public Finance and Audit Act was introduced in 1987 that an Auditor General has been limited in giving an opinion “on whether things are done properly and lawfully”.

He also added “I think there is reason to be concerned about that (risk to taxpayers)”.

In an effort to improve transparency, the Liberal Party has introduced legislation that would grant the Auditor General more power to obtain government documents, without the need for approval from the government of the day or Leader of the Opposition. The legislation would apply retrospectively.

Shadow Treasurer, Matt Cowdrey, said the lack of accountability from Peter Malinauskas and his Government is astounding and he needs to be upfront with South Australians about how he’s spending their taxpayer dollars.

“The Labor Government has a clear problem with accountability when they are deliberately preventing the Auditor General from doing his job,” Mr Cowdrey said.

“We are talking about tens of billions of dollars being spent on the most important projects in our state – like the new Women’s and Children’s Hospital and the North-South Corridor – but the Auditor General can’t properly assess these projects because Labor is hiding the evidence.

“This veil of secrecy that Peter Malinauskas has created raises serious questions about what he’s trying to hide.

“South Australians deserve to know their taxpayer dollars are being spent properly and in accordance with the law. Under the Malinauskas Labor Government South Australia is becoming a secret state and that is a huge concern.”

Chair of the Budget and Finance Committee, Heidi Girolamo, said it’s astounding to hear how the Auditor General is being hamstrung by the Malinauskas Labor Government.

“On Peter Malinauskas’ watch, the Auditor General has been prevented from determining whether major government projects are being carried out properly and lawfully for the first time in at least 36 years,” Ms Girolamo said.

“Andrew Richardson told the committee there are no justifiable reasons why the government would refuse an Auditor General access to cabinet documents, so it’s hard to make sense as to why Peter Malinauskas is doing this unless he’s got something to hide.

“South Australians should be extremely concerned about this lack of transparency from the Malinauskas Labor Government, because it is $20 billion of their taxpayer money going towards these projects that can’t be properly assessed.

“The Auditor General’s role is crucial in maintaining checks and balances and South Australians deserve to have confidence their hard-earned dollars are being spent wisely.”


Evidence of approval sought by the Auditor General as required by established frameworks in 202223:

  • approval for the relocation of the new Women’s and Children’s Hospital and the associated cost increase
  • approval for the modified design and cost for the North‐South Corridor Torrens to Darlington project
  • approval for the amended expenditure total for the Darlington upgrade project
  • approval for the implementation and associated costs of expanding the electronic medical records system to country local health networks
  • approval for the procurement process for the replacement of Masterpiece as the main accounting system used by most of SA Government agencies
  • approval for the contracts for SAHT maintenance services.
  • approval of the Department for Education’s waste management service contract
  • approval of the return of rail service operation to the SA Government and associated contractual arrangements
  • approval of the business case and associated expenditure for the Adelaide Botanic High School expansion
  • approval for the transfer of land associated with the Festival Plaza from the Department of the Premier and Cabinet to the Urban Renewal Authority
  • approval for the approach to the Hahndorf Township improvements and access upgrade
  • approvals for specific settlements associated with the compulsory acquisition of properties for the North‐South corridor
  • approval for the disposal of surplus land
  • approval for the Adelaide Aquatic Centre replacement approach
  • approvals associated with specific government office accommodation leases
  • approval of the procurement approach for the Hydrogen Jobs Plan
  • approval for the extension of services provided by Spotless under the Royal Adelaide Hospital public private partnership
  • approval for the disposal of land through transfer at Thebarton