Concern about Covid funding decision-making
28th January 2022
A Quarterly Public Hearing in which the Corporate Services Scrutiny Panel questioned the Minister for Treasury and Resources, Deputy Susie Pinel, has raised further concerns about Scrutiny's lack of access to minutes from the meetings of the Competent Authorities Ministers (CAM).
When questioned about Ministerial conflicts of interest in relation to the Co-Funded Payroll Scheme, the Treasurer, Richard Bell, and Assistant Minister for Treasury and Resources, Senator Ian Gorst, confirmed that some Ministers have declared conflicts and, therefore, have not taken part in the voting process for these Schemes. It was heard that these conflicts would be recorded in the CAM minutes. However, Scrutiny is still yet to receive these, despite the States Assembly voting in favour of the minutes being shared on 3 November 2021. The Corporate Services Panel considers this issue of conflicts of interests to demonstrate the importance of the Government becoming more transparent in its decision-making.
The Panel is also concerned that, despite there being no formal process in place for organisations to appeal the Government's requests for repayments from the Scheme funding, some requests are being reviewed and revised down by Customer and Local Services (CLS). The number of organisations that have received these requests for repayments and whose appeals are being reviewed remains unclear at this stage.
Chair of the Corporate Services Panel, Senator Kristina Moore, said: "This lack of transparency surrounding Ministers' conflicts of interests in relation to the Co-Funded Payroll Scheme is yet another example of why the Government's failure to share Competent Authority Ministers' minutes with Scrutiny is so important. It is crucial that Scrutiny is provided with the resources to understand the decision-making process behind the extension of such Schemes which take place during CAM meetings and, in turn, fulfil its role in holding the Government to account for such decisions."
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