http://www.theage.com.au/news/national/a...1089152102.htmlSOME senior staff at Victoria's alpine resorts have been making dubious publicly funded expense claims, including one instance of more than $1000 claimed for a Labor Party fund-raiser.
Victoria's financial watchdog has uncovered a number of questionable claims for personal expenses by government-appointed senior staff and board members at Victoria's five alpine resorts.
Ahead of the opening of the Victorian ski season this week, a report by the Victorian Auditor-General's Office, released yesterday, details unauthorised expense claims, a lack of documentation to support expense claims, claims being paid to board members before approval, and inconsistent travel and mileage claims.
The report says that in one case a board member claimed a refund of $1100 for attending a political fund-raising event.
The Age believes this claim was made by the chairwoman of the Falls Creek Board of Management, Judy Ward, to attend a fund-raising event for state ALP MP Rob Hudson, the member for Bentleigh.
Mr Hudson said that "of course" he knew Ms Ward, but declined to comment on whether she had attended the fund-raising event.
"I have not accepted a payment from any public sector agency," he said.
"Every payment I receive from fund-raising comes from individuals."
The Age was unable to contact Ms Ward yesterday. A spokeswoman for Falls Creek said she could not comment.
A spokesman for Environment Minister John Thwaites said the Department of Sustainability and Environment would hire an independent auditor to investigate the claims. The report said "deficiencies" in arrangements for claiming expenses showed a need for "sector entities" to improve procedures and controls.
It also raised serious doubts about the viability of Lake Mountain and Mount Baw Baw, finding both were in a parlous financial state and facing the prospect of more bad seasons because of the effects of climate change.
The Mount Baw Baw management board reported a $385,000 operating loss last year, while Lake Mountain was $333,000 in the red.
The losses â€” and lack of public accountability â€” came despite $2.8 million in "support payments" from the DSE.
Opposition environment spokeswoman Louise Asher said any dubious claims represented a serious abuse of taxpayers' money.
"The Bracks Labor Government needs to clean up the practices of these alpine resort management boards and senior staff and to ensure their personal expense reimbursement practices do not continue to be an abuse of taxpayers' money," Ms Asher said.
DSE secretary Peter Harris said the department would be pursuing the issue "vigorously".
"The department will ensure that advice on guideline development will be provided to the management boards," Mr Harris said.
Victoria's alpine resort management boards are required by law to be largely self-sufficient, earning revenue through service charges, gate fees and site rentals.
The report said "deficiencies" in arrangements for claiming expenses showed a need for "sector entities" to improve procedures and controls.
Last edited by a moderator: