Accountability is very important in the disposal of government assets to ensure that we are not ripped off by corruption; nepotism, theft, misappropriation or whatever else could come into it.
It gets ridiculous though when the efforts at transparency end up costing unacceptable amounts, like the case of the parliament house billiard tables. Two of them went missing and were found to have been auctioned off for around $2,500 each. Senator Falkner is trying to get to the bottom of it, so far at a cost of over $100,000, itemized as:
$30,000, PricewaterhouseCoopers audit of the sales process:At this stage the department involved is unable to come up with a figure for the actual costs to the government in selling the tables after a year of questions:
$12,000 second PWC investigation into the origins and value of them:
$30,000 on an external review:
$5300 on an internal review of disposal policies, and:
$25,000 for an external investigation into a possible code of conduct breach by a member of staff.
Mr Thompson and his deputy David Kenny did not know, when questioned, what it cost to remove the billiard tables from Parliament House, what it cost to store them, and what the auction house fees were.Sir Humphrey Appleby would love this.
"Who paid for that? I suppose we don't know that either,'' Senator Faulkner said. "God help us.”
"I'm just trying to find out the costs to the Australian taxpayer of the debacle of your department's billiard tables sale exercise and I've been asking this now for a year.” "And even at today's estimates, after all the circus surrounding it, we don't have any answers. Pretty ordinary, isn't it?”
"So far that sale for $5000 benefit has been $102,500 cost to the Australian taxpayer, plus other minor costs we don't know about. Well I want the whole lot _ every cost borne by the Department of Parliamentary Services in relation to the debacle which was the sale of these billiard tables.