16 Apr 2013

Labour outraged at spending by Solid Energy

8:29 am on 16 April 2013

Labour says spending by Solid Energy on travel, public relations and private investigators is outrageous.

The information is contained in a financial review of the the cash-strapped State coal company, due for public release in the next few weeks.

Spending on international travel rose from almost $1.2 million in 2008, to nearly $1.8 million last year.

The company said the travel was to keep in touch with export markets and keep staff up-to-date with good international practices.

Last year, Solid Energy, which is at least $389 million in debt, also spent $205,000 on private investigators and nearly $1 million on nine public relations staff, more than double what it spent four years earlier.

Clayton Cosgrove MP said the spending has been reckless.

''These guys were spending like drunken sailors,'' he said on Morning Report.

Solid Energy said the travel was needed to keep in touch with export markets and the security was necessary to protect $1 billion worth of assets.

Spokesman Bill Luff said there have been those who have spent a considerable amount of time and effort trying to frustrate Solid Energy's ability to operate those assets.

The number of public relations staff had since been reduced.