(CNS): Following the recent meetings of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) Opposition Leader McKeeva Bush has once again hit out at the Office of the Auditor General (OAG) and accused them of telling a “bellyful of lies” because of their own “rotten” agenda. Bush has denied that politicians were the architects of the original Dart agreement and insisted that technocrats were involved, as he accused both the audit office and PAC of misleading the public now that he has been removed from the committee.
Hitting out with an angry Facebook post Bush also told CNS that he believed that on too many occasions the OAG was ”wilfully and vindictively” writing what they want, even when corrected by civil service management, and said the office was giving the wrong information to the public.
“They do not interview those they are writing about and smearing,” Bush said. “Then in my case they move me out of the PAC and the chair and those members who wish to agree refuse to call us as a witness then put out their version of what took place.”
Bush’s role in the controversial Nation Building Fund and the Dart negotiations were criticised by the OAG in some of the most recently published reports and but the auditors stressed that the issue is about the lack of processes and the failure of governance framework to ensure transparency and accountability when it comes to dealing with major projects or handing out money.
Bush agreed that there was room for improvement when it came to frameworks in government.
“Most things in life can be improved on. Certainly systems can be … and the audit office at times are right,” he admitted but said what the audit office was releasing at present was not “justice nor correct in any shape or form”.
In his Facebook posting Bush admitted that he was involved in the Dart deal but said the negotiations were based on the advice of the technocrats.
“All of our agreements had the technical input and advice of civil servants, including the legal advice of the government’s chief legal adviser, to make sure that the agreement was not unlawful. As politicians we could not and did not do that kind of legal work. Policy is what we are elected to do and we set the policy,” the opposition leader maintained. However, he doubted that this kind of agreement could be negotiated in any open public setting, saying, “This is not a board meeting.”
During this month’s PAC hearings, the OAG had once again raised concerns that the Dart talks were still not being conducted properly and that the deals should not be agreed and signed off by politicians at all but should come to the Legislative Assembly before they are finalised.
Bush took direct aim again at the audit office and implied they were the ones in the wrong because of their own agenda.
“The public of this country is constantly being fed a bellyful of lies from auditors who have their own rotten agenda,” he said, as he accused them of spending government money “in all kinds of ways” and “hiring their friends” from overseas. He said even when civil servants show them the evidence of why their findings are wrong, they do nothing. He said Martin Rubens, the director of performance audits, was running the office from behind the scenes and described him as the “most despicable of them all”.
“But since they took me off the committee, politicians there who have their own bitter political agenda can continue to smear without balanced information, which the committee should have,” he said. “But what they get is the will of the chair (Ezzard Miller), who by condoning these shenanigans is carrying out his version of good governance.”
The opposition leader said, however, that he believed the majority of people would see through it and stop it in the democratic way when the premier calls the election.
PAC returns to the LA for further scrutiny of the audit reports Wednesday but the chair already stated that he will not be calling as witnesses to the committee either Bush or the Speaker, Juliana O’Connor Connolly, who was also accused of having mismanaged public funds.
CNS contacted OAG but it declined to comment on the opposition leader’s allegations.