Posted on: 14 February 2023
The final cost of Stephen Mullighan’s eight-day United States adventure – which cost taxpayers at least $78,000 – is still being calculated, but the bulk of public money was spent on business class flights.
During Budget and Finance Committee on Monday, Department for Treasury and Finance Chief Executive Rick Persse reluctantly revealed some details about the three-person trip to New York, Los Angeles and Washington between January 19-27.
Mr Persse told the Committee he, Stephen Mullighan, and a senior Ministerial advisor, travelled together with costs (flights and accommodation) totalling about $26,000 per person.
The trio stayed at three different hotels – The Marmara Park Avenue (New York), Century Park Hotel (Los Angeles), and Hotel Medina (Washington).
Mr Persse said the total cost of the trip was still being calculated but admitted “absolutely it’s a substantial amount of money”.
In an unusual move, Stephen Mullighan chose to spearhead the international trip without the expert guidance of the South Australian Government Financing Authority. The trio met with banks, dignitaries, and fund managers and spent unknown cash amounts.
Shadow Treasurer Matt Cowdrey said he is concerned taxpayers could be on the hook for more than $100,000, describing the trip as a “slap in the face for South Australians during a cost of living crisis”.
“Stephen Mullighan’s business class trip could cost taxpayers more than $100,000 and when public money is being spent on that scale – especially during a cost of living crisis – South Australians deserve to know what they got for it,” Mr Cowdrey said.
“We have South Australians living on the streets and in tents, while so many people are struggling to put food on the table, but that clearly didn’t factor in Stephen Mullighan’s mind.
“Stephen Mullighan is out of touch with every day South Australians because when you crunch the numbers, the trio was spending nearly $10,000 per day – and that doesn’t even include expenses.
“Stephen Mullighan’s business class trip appears to be unnecessary, especially when nine consecutive rate hikes from the RBA has impacted the average home loan ($600,000) by an extra $1000 per month.”
“Stephen Mullighan’s trip cost almost $10,000 per day – close to 10 times the amount interest rates have risen, putting South Australians on the edge of homelessness.