Minister for Regional Development, Jaclyn Symes has reluctantly responded to the Liberal Nationals call for an explanation as to why former Labor Party branch President, now Latrobe Valley Authority (LVA) CEO, Karen Cain, spent $22,000 in taxpayers’ funds on two overseas travel junkets to conferences in Spain and South Africa over the past year.
In acknowledging the uncovering of extravagant and wasteful travel expenditure at the LVA, Minister Symes has now issued her Department Secretary a directive to “ensure that that travel costs are minimised as much as possible.”
What the Minister has not done though is provide adequate answers as to whether taxpayers are receiving value for money and exactly what benefits the Latrobe Valley community has received from Karen Cain’s several overseas junkets.
The Minister has failed to provide details of the specific benefits to the Latrobe Valley from Ms Cain’s travel, vaguely saying that, “engagement with the international community has directly benefited the Latrobe Valley Community, with strategic diversification projects for growth sectors either commenced or soon to commence.” .
Minister Symes must now explain to the Latrobe Valley community exactly what “strategic diversification projects for growth sectors” have resulted from Ms Cain’s overseas junkets and how many new jobs will be created in the Valley by these projects.