The famous Carol Mills – John Bercow’s personal candidate for the position of Clerk of the Commons – was up in front of an Australian Senate finance committee this week.
An “excruciating process” (in the words of one present) extracted a number of admissions and confessions that undermine her reputation in the Commons as a “world-class administrator”.
· * Her department hasn’t had a Chief Financial Officer for 12 months.
· * While she chairs the Security management Board – a separate security panel was set up without her knowledge.
· * The threat level may have been fiddled to help justify a $400,000 cut in the security budget.
· * While cuts were being made and improvements to parliamentary facilities were being denied – she spent $3m on refitting her office (nearly twice the original estimate).
· * A contract for $30,000 to take 10 photographs was given to a friend and neighbour of hers from the same Sydney street.
The photographic commission was issued on Carol Mills’ authority, to take photographs for the Parliamentary Experience branch of her department. A list of eight names was presented, but without any open process, the list was narrowed to one name.
Carol Mills was one of a number of names considered for the clerkship, and without any open process, the list was narrowed to one.
How things work the same way all over the world!
Senator Faulkner commented: “. . . a department that you are the secretary of is used to contract somebody who lives in the same street to do something through a closed process? Doesn’t this raise the obvious question of either a conflict of interest or a perceived conflict of interest? It sure as hell does to me.”
He concluded: “I have some very serious questions to raise here. This is a serious matter.”
PS: The video on the Australian parliament website of the moment when Carol Mills realises she has been caught out “she looks like she has been hit by a bus”, in the words of one present.