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Wednesday, April 19, 2006

New disclosure requirements mooted for local councils but why stop there?

The Daily Telegraph (18 April) has a long report on corporate credit card use by 10 Sydney councils based on credit card statements obtained under the FOI Act. The version of the story available on the paper’s website does not contain the full details which appeared in print.

The Telegraph has followed up today with another report which revisits the issue, and links the disclosures with proposals by some councils for rate increases. The article includes comments by the NSW Minister for Local Government that all councils will now be required to disclose credit card spending (and reimbursements for personal spending) each year in a way that ensures such spending is “clear and identifiable” to the public.

The Minister’s comments sound like a knee jerk reaction – councils (and others including the Ombudsman) have for years been encouraging the Government to update the information access regime that applies to local councils, but successive ministers for local government have shown no interest.

While pro active disclosure of credit card expenditure for local councils would be a good thing, why stop there? How about pro active disclosure of ministerial and senior public servant credit card expenditure and travel and hospitality costs for starters?

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