Image for PS Chiefs wheels of fortune

PRESSURE is mounting on the State Government to scale back the $33.3 million fleet of luxury cars driven by senior public servants.

New Right to Information documents released by the Department of Treasury and Finance reveal that the fleet includes:

—29 BMW 3 Series vehicles (about $76,000 each).

• 27 Mercedes-Benz C-Class (about $69,000 each).

• 55 Volvos (about $70,000 each).

• Six Toyota Prados (about $88,904 each).

The most common model is the more practical Subaru Outback, of which there are 79 worth about $62,000 each.

The cheapest model in the fleet is the $32,000 Mazda 3, of which there are three.

Those who get privately plated, taxpayer-funded cars as part of their pay packages include MPs, heads of agencies and senior appointees such as judges, magistrates and medical officers.

The Government last month said paring back the fleet was “an option” in its quest to make urgently needed expenditure cuts. Widespread public service job cuts have also been flagged.

However, Opposition Treasury spokesman Peter Gutwein said yesterday that exploring options was not enough, and the Government should hold an immediate audit of its vehicle fleet.

“In an environment where people are already being sacked to make up [Premier Lara Giddings’] Budget shortfall, the Premier needs to provide an explanation,” he said.

“Any audit must look not just at the cost of individual vehicles but if there is sufficient business-related usage to justify it and also their running costs.”

A government spokesman said the more expensive cars were offered to senior public servants because it was “commensurate with the level they’re on in terms of their contract”.

The spokesman said Ms Giddings had already told all government agencies to review spending on external consultancies, including cars.

Ms Giddings had said that while privately plated cars were offered as part of a bid to attract and retain quality staff, she was keen to explore ways to further reduce the cost of the overall vehicle fleet, he said.

The Right to Information documents, obtained by the Liberals, include a breakdown of the makes, models and running costs of the fleet of privately plated cars driven by public servants.

Based on current purchase costs of the vehicles, the total value of the fleet of 569 vehicles is about $33.3 million.

The total monthly running cost of the cars is $644,272, including fuel, rental and maintenance. This adds up to $7.7 million a year.

Unions Tasmania secretary Kevin Harkins said yesterday it was a bad look for some public servants to be seen “swanning around in BMWs” while others faced the sack.

Unions are set to ramp up their campaign against public sector job cuts with a series of television advertisements.

“There’s an obvious cost saving to be made there, but we’d need a lot more information about what those cars are used for,” Mr Harkins said.

“I’ve got a basic model Navara four-door ute, and I’m quite happy with it.”

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• The imported and prestigious seats for PS bottoms have been well covered over the years on Tasmanian Times by Hag and Peter:

They way they were in 2009, His ‘n’ Hers:

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Tough at the Top: His ‘n’ Hers

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