Further to our piece on the outrageous legal costs claimed by former ministers and senior public servants, we thought we'd look into the detail a bit more.
So far it has been difficult to find complete information or details on the information that we found.
The costs were paid out as Grant Awards according to the terms of a Grant Opportunity for the Attorney General's Department. That 'GO' as they are called, was GO5775 as partially shown below and was published on the 27th September 2022.
Of particular note is the stated 'Total Amount Available (AUD)' - $607,000 !
The costs were paid out as 'Grant Awards' and can be seen on the Grant Connect web site. The only trouble is that we only found 10 which refer to the original Attorney General's Grant Opportunity GO5775 which is now closed.
Those GA's that showed a GO ID of GO5775were: GA272165 GA275826-V1 GA276202-V1 GA293162 GA288916 GA293405 GA287044-V1 GA274243 GA279721-V1 GA294958 NB: These also indicated that they were one-off amounts and NOT aggregated. Confusing. Or bad data entry?
In our article yesterday, the table also listed 10 rows - one for each past minister and senior public servant assisted.
The problem we have is that the GA search results we extracted showed a total of only $103,237 which leads us to think that each GA refers to one person in our list and as none of the amounts shown match any in our table from yesterday, there must be other cost claims that we cannot see.
The other disturbing aspect is that the GA's provide no 'Recipient' names and other useful data due to confidentiality rules. This should not be allowed to happen. These people were subpoenaed to appear before the Robodebt RC and the public has a right to know what exact costs were claimed and by who.
Finally, and possibly most disturbingly, our table of the 10 witness cost claim totals yesterday amounted to $2,553,029 ! (This was borne out by a Guardian Australia article by Paul Karp on Friday 7th July).
The original GO5775 as shown had a maximum available amount of only $607,000 ! So how was the remaining $1,946,029 paid out let alone approved? We will be seeking further explanations from the AG's department and from the Grants authority.
Given all the above, we believe it is mandatory that the full and complete details of those legal cost claims are tabled in parliament and published for public consumption.
Even if we were found to be off the mark or working from incomplete data, it all highlights a sad lack of transparency for everyone. It may even demonstrate a breakdown between Grants Connect and all other government departments.
GB / AB