AUDITOR-GENERAL UNCOVERS PETER DUTTON’S HALF A BILLION DOLLAR PALADIN BLUNDER

28 April 2020


SENATOR THE HON KRISTINA KENEALLY
DEPUTY LABOR LEADER IN THE SENATE
SHADOW MINISTER FOR HOME AFFAIRS
SHADOW MINISTER FOR IMMIGRATION AND CITIZENSHIP
SENATOR FOR NEW SOUTH WALES 
 
AUDITOR-GENERAL UNCOVERS PETER DUTTON’S
HALF A BILLION DOLLAR PALADIN BLUNDER
 
In a new report, the Australian National Audit Office (ANAO) has said Peter Dutton handing over half a billion dollars of taxpayer’s money to Paladin – a company once run out of a shack on Kangaroo Island – did not demonstrate value for money.
 
“The department did not demonstrate the achievement of value for money for the PNG procurements. Although the department had limited options for comparing tenderer costs, most of the benchmarks it used were not appropriate.” – Procurement of Garrison Support and Welfare Services, page 40.
 
Peter Dutton and his Department paid Paladin a total of $532 million for a contract that lasted 801 days – that’s equivalent to $664,169 per day.
 
The value of contract was 35 times the company’s 2016 revenue and Home Affairs labelled the Overall Financial Risk assessment as “moderate to high”.
 
Even the Home Affairs’ Chief Financial Officer raised concerns about the money being handed to Paladin saying, “this contract represents a significant step up in size for Paladin which represents a high risk for the Commonwealth.”
 
The report also confirms Peter Dutton’s Department of Home Affairs was aware of approaches made to Paladin requesting payments for visas.
 
“Departmental records showed that on 5 December 2017, Paladin advised the department that it was encountering difficulties in obtaining visas for workers, but that these difficulties could be resolved ‘via a payment from Paladin’, which it had refused to make. The department advised Paladin on the need to ensure that all activities were conducted in a manner which was consistent with Australian law.” – Procurement of Garrison Support and Welfare Services, page 37.
 
This is at odds to evidence heard at Senate Estimates in March when Home Affairs Secretary Michael Pezzullo said, “we've checked records. We continue to check records to see if anything that approximates what is otherwise stated as fact in media reports and elsewhere can in any way be said to resonate with our records. The answer up until now continues to be no.”
  
The Auditor General’s report paints a much different picture of Paladin than Peter Dutton and the Government has tried to claim.
 
This latest report adds to Peter Dutton’s record of mismanagement at the helm of the Department of Home Affairs and the Australian taxpayer is paying for Peter Dutton’s incompetence.
 
If it weren’t for the Auditor General, the Government would have continued to try and sweep Mr Dutton’s waste and mismanagement under the rug and pretend there was nothing for the Australian public to see.
 
It also proves the importance of the independent Auditor General and the Government must act to adequately fund the ANAO and stop any reduction in the number of performance audits due to government budget cuts or lack of funding.

THURSDAY, 28 MAY 2020

MEDIA CONTACT: TIMOTHY DUNLOP 0428 043 110