The enormous cost of Labor’s green waste now includes empty desks with a million dollar price tag and many millions of dollars in bad debts, Shadow Parliamentary Secretary for the Environment Simon Birmingham said today.
Department officials have revealed through Senate Estimates hearings the gross underutilisation of hugely costly office space, while further details have emerged about the magnitude of the ongoing legacy of past Labor disasters.
Under questioning from Senator Birmingham, officials at the new department absorbing most of the functions of Labor’s former Climate Change department have revealed there are 88 free work stations in the Nishi building it leased for $158 million over 15 years.
Officials at the Department of Industry, Innovation, Climate Change, Science, Research and Tertiary Education have further confirmed that the number of vacant work stations (or desks) will grow to 103 in coming months, with largely vacant executive suites.
“Only the most wasteful of governments could lock taxpayers into a 15-year lease of office space for a department it abolishes within months of the public servants moving in,” Senator Birmingham said today.
“Already more than 10 per cent of this building stands vacant, with taxpayers being forced to pay a carbon tax to rent work stations with nobody sitting at them.
“Labor spent millions more fitting out this luxury building, with everything from an executive wine fridge to multiple top-of-the-range coffee machines, just months before abolishing the department that moved into it.”
The same abolished department has left an ongoing legacy of nearly 1300 debts totalling more than $28 million either outstanding or written off as a result of Labor’s failed environment programs including ‘Pink Batts’ and Green Loans.
The number and size of the debts have been revealed in response to an estimates question taken on notice.*
“Taxpayers first endured billions in wasteful spending under these disastrous programs and are now still suffering the ignominy that many who wrongly claimed millions in grants are literally getting away with their cash,” Senator Birmingham said.
“These millions in bad debts will sadly stand as a legacy to the bad policies of the Rudd and Gillard eras which continue to see taxpayers ripped off.
“The only way to end Labor’s waste and ensure value for taxpayer money in government programs is to change the Government.”
*Answer to question 66 available at http://www.aph.gov.au/Parliamentary_Business/Committees/Senate_Committees?url=ec_ctte/estimates/add_1213/ccee/corporate_41-67.pdf