Outrageous spending unveiled in trade program that is not yet fully operational

07 December 2021

New data shows a spending blowout on overseas office accommodation and events before the Liberal Government’s trade program is even fully operational, and Estimates Questions reveal they are now late in announcing trade envoys for NSW. The Liberal Government is behind in implementing its trade scheme, with four out of six Senior Trade and Investment Commissioners still to be appointed, 10 out of 22 overseas trade offices yet to be opened, and KPIs not set for international staff. But forensic questioning by NSW Labor in Budget Estimates has uncovered dubious amounts of taxpayers’ money being spent on office accommodation, hospitality and events in the last financial year. The average accommodation costs in overseas trade offices is $40,000 a year per employee. In cities such as Shanghai, Abu Dhabi and London, the per-person accommodation costs were almost $100,000 a year. The London office spent $200,000 on events and networking activities – almost double all other offices combined. NSW Shadow Minister for Industry and Trade, Anoulack Chanthivong MP, said the figures revealed the Liberal Government’s mismanagement of its trade program. “The Government’s focus should be focused on linking NSW exporters and businesses with international customers, not setting up fancy offices and events with hefty price tags,” he said. “There isn’t even a performance review system in place to measure the effectiveness of each office and yet more than $2.7 million in non-wage expenses have already accumulated. “This is even more proof the Liberal Government is more interested in making shiny announcements about its trade program than delivering for NSW exporters and businesses.”