06 March 2007

Sullivan explains secret bonus

Former finance minister Loyola Sullivan, whose surprise resignation from the legislature in December spurred days of speculation, has defended $2875 in bonus payments made to members of the legislature in 2004 but not made public until earlier this year.
In his letter to [Speaker Harvey] Hodder, Sullivan said not all the facts and context about how the bonus decision was made have been explained.

Sullivan said restraint measures at the legislature included a two-year wage freeze and a five-per-cent rollback on constituency allowances.

Sullivan added the IEC also "created efficiencies" throughout the house of assembly's operation, including the library and Hansard, "which meant hundreds of thousands of dollars of savings."

The IEC then eliminated a $4,800 discretionary component of constituency allowances, for which members did not need to submit receipts.

Sullivan said in March-April 2004, some MHAs reported they had exhausted their constituency allowances but still had incurred expenses.
Oddly enough, the details of the spending decision were made public by Hodder before Sullivan's letter was sent in mid-February.

What Sullivan - who, along with other members of the Internal Economy commission, approved the bonus payment - didn't explain is how the House of Assembly consistently overspent the allowances budget line item in 2004 and 2005 by a total of almost $1.0 million after the supposed restraint measures were implemented. That couldn't have been done without Sullivan's knowledge and approval.

Since Loyola Sullivan's letter raises once again the numerous questions about what happened before June 2006, who knew, what they knew and what they did about it, Loyola has done the public a tremendous service:

he has given us yet another reason to hold a public inquiry.