Waste trip could cost taxpayer as much as £80,000

Tax payers could be paying up to £80,000 on sending an Assembly Government official on a 10-month work placement to Australia, Welsh Conservatives claimed today.

Figures obtained by the party detail in full how much will be spent for the Manager of Waste Awareness Wales to take part in a 10-month fact-finding trip Down Under.
 
The cost includes £3,000 on air fares, £8,000 will be spent on public transport in the UK and Australia, and £14,000 will be spent on accommodation.
 
On top of the £25,000, the Manager of Waste Awareness Wales will be allowed up to £35 a day in subsistence costs for every day spent working away from the Sydney base.
 
When the job was advertised in 2004, the pay-scale was shown as £33,009 – £38,010.
 
Shadow Environment Minister Darren Millar AM said taking in the cost of covering the officials' job back in Wales, the final bill could be around £80,000.
 
He added:
 
“I am astonished the Assembly Government thinks spending this amount of money can be in any way justified.
 
“This is an incredibly costly trip for one individual to undertake, all financed by the tax payer.
 
“We have asked the Assembly Government to justify exactly why this trip is needed and why it will take so long?
 
“It is vitally important that Wales improves its recycling record and meets the 40% target for 2010.
 
“While I accept we need to learn lessons from other parts of the world, I cannot begin to imagine how ministers think this sort of expenditure is the right approach.
 
“Clearly some spending on this sort of research is necessary, but you have to seriously question the government’s judgement if it thinks it can spend so much sending someone so far for so long to find answers to questions which could easily have been asked back at home.
 
“It also seems that the Assembly Government is not entirely sure of where Ms. Richards will be doing her work.
 
“Two weeks ago we were told she was on her way to Canberra, the first location in the world to commit to zero waste, but these figures show subsistence payments for when Ms. Richards is away from her Sydney base.”