I seek leave to make a brief explanation before asking a question of the Minister for Environment and Conservation on the subject of EPA consultants.
The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK: Last week it was revealed that the EPA had employed the partner of its chief executive on two occasions as a consultant, with the employment period being for less than eight months with a payment of $137,500. The reporting of it stated that the position was not publicly advertised and instead had undergone an internal 'direct negotiation process due to urgent and unforseen requirements'. My questions are:
1.Can the minister clarify what the actual recruitment process is for consultants under these circumstances?
2.Can the minister provide details of the individual's qualifications to undertake this work?
3.Will the minister publicly release these two reports?
4.Does the minister believe that a review needs to take place into the internal processes of the EPA?
The Hon. I.K. HUNTER (Minister for Sustainability, Environment and Conservation, Minister for Water and the River Murray, Minister for Aboriginal Affairs and Reconciliation) (14:42): I thank the honourable member for her most important question and understand that it goes to an issue of procurement policy and procedures. I am told the department's procurement policy and procedure is guided by the State Procurement Act regulations and the State Procurement Board policies and guidelines.
I understand that the person that the honourable member is discussing here today was initially contracted to assist in the amalgamation of the department for environment and natural resources with the department for water. I am advised that a limited procurement or direct negotiation process was conducted by the department in contracting the person responsible due to the specialist nature of the work required and the urgency associated with the commencement of the contract. I am assured that the person contracted had the appropriate experience and skills in change management and, given the complexity and urgency of the task to effectively bring the two agencies together, direct negotiation was required. I am advised that agencies are able to undertake direct negotiation in limited circumstances.
The PRESIDENT: A supplementary question, the Hon. Ms Lensink.
The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK (14:43): Is the minister confident that all state government policies, whether it is under the State Procurement Act or other policies, were followed on this occasion?
The Hon. I.K. HUNTER (Minister for Sustainability, Environment and Conservation, Minister for Water and the River Murray, Minister for Aboriginal Affairs and Reconciliation) (14:43): The advice I have before me raises no such concerns.