July 19, 2024

As the CEO of the Department for Energy and Mining, Dr Paul Heithersay is responsible for saving South Australians money on their energy bills.

But his spending is now in the spotlight after 9News obtained documents showing that in March of this year, Heithersay spent more than $30,000 of taxpayer’s money while attending a mining conference in Canada. 

“We’re in a cost of living crisis and the government should be cutting their cloth appropriately and not spending money to this extent,” shadow treasurer Matt Cowdrey said.

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The executive, who is paid more than $400,000 per year, is currently on leave.

Today his deputy, Vince Duffy, defended the bill.

“I think it’s an important investment,” he said.

The expenses included business class flights totalling $23,233, five nights at the Ritz-Carlton at almost $1500 per night, and at least three restaurant dinners.

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One dinner cost $760, with the bill for another coming to almost $650.

The Department of Energy and Mining defended the flights.

It said the Ritz-Carlton was chosen because there were few other hotels available.

A department spokesperson also defended the cost of the dinners.

“That was multiple people, so it was the chief executive plus four people,” they said.

“So when you think of it in those circumstances, it’s fairly reasonable for a dinner.”

The department says when you factor in the attendance of those four other staff members, the total cost to taxpayers was actually around a hundred thousand dollars. 

Premier Peter Malinauskas said the government would pay attention to the spending.

“I think it’s not just chief executives, it’s ministers too. It’s something we want to pay attention to.”

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