The union representing public sector workers has questioned the use by government agencies of private contractors to investigate staff, given recent budget freezes.
The State Opposition yesterday accused the Government of running a ‘police state’ after one of its departments admitted spending $5,000 on a private detective to investigate a damaging leak.
It followed the clearing of sand near a shack on Wedge Island used by MP Murray Cowper and a warning from the Department of Environment and Conservation.
The CPSU/CSA says it is aware that government agencies occasionally use private detectives for discipline breaches.
But, the assistant secretary Rikki Hendon says the money could be much better spent.
“They’ve recently announced more than a thousand job cuts to come in the next two years,” he said.
“They’ve also announced a lot of limitations on expenditure within departments so I guess my concern would be that the Government is spending a lot of money on these contractors when it can’t afford the basics.”
Ms Hendon says she has questioned whether it is necessary.
“Ultimately, what we’re concerned about is the extent to which independent contractors are used to investigate matters within the public service and the conduct of employees within the public service,” she said.
“How much it costs and what of that money could be better spent on delivering services to the public.”
A statement from the Public Sector Commission said the use of contractors to investigate disciplinary matters has been a long-standing practice used by successive governments over several years.
The Opposition Leader, Mark McGowan, is not convinced.
“I have never, ever heard of this before and I’ve never heard of it in Government in my experience in 16 years in Parliament,” he said.
“I’ve certainly never, ever heard of it being used to intimidate or harass a serving member of Parliament.”
Mr McGowan says it is not a good move.
“Departments have their own process to investigate internal matters,” he said.
“I think employing shady, outside private investigators is not desirable in the public sector and what’s more this could be costing many, many thousands of dollars.”