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Parks Vic staff spend up on credit cards

AAP logoAAP 8/01/2017 Angus Livingston

Parks Victoria staff used taxpayer-funded credit cards to spend up big at fancy restaurants, luxury hotels and wineries, it has been revealed.

Credit card records show staff spent thousands of dollars in a number of visits to the high-end Werribee Mansion Hotel and Spa, and $946 at Melbourne pub Saint and Rogue.

One transaction was for Netflix at $14.99, while $260 was spent seven times at one KFC restaurant over four months.

Environment Minister Lily D'Ambrosio says an external auditor will review credit card transactions going back four years.

"As an immediate step, I've asked Parks Victoria to put in place a process to reduce the number of credit cards currently in use and for that to be provided to me by Friday," Ms D'Ambrosio said in a statement on Monday.

The 1200-staff organisation has 549 credit cards, which led to a bill of $2.2 million in 2015/16, up $300,000 from four years earlier.

Opposition environment spokesman Brad Battin, who obtained the records under Freedom of Information laws, said the money could have been put to better use.

"This is an offensive waste of money by (Premier) Daniel Andrews' bureaucrats," Mr Battin told AAP.

Parks Victoria staff are not allowed to buy alcohol on company credit cards, and they get a meal allowance if their shift runs late.

Records show hundreds of dollars spent at the Yarra Valley Balgownie Estate winery, the Shadowfax winery, and the award-winning Royal Mail Hotel.

The records show only dollars spent, not what was purchased.

One transaction was for $347 at a jewellers in Melbourne, and $898 was spent at a mountain bike shop.

Others forked out more than $5000 over five transactions at JB Hi-Fi stores.

"I've sought the independent audit to ensure proper governance processes are in place and that taxpayers' money is being used appropriately," Ms D'Ambrosio said.

Acting chief executive Margaret Gillespie welcomed the review, and said staff often travelled over large distances, incurring work-related costs for food.

"Credit cards provide an open and transparent tool for making essential business purchases," Ms Gillespie said in a statement.

She said Parks Victoria had phased out the use of petty cash, as credit cards provided better accountability.

Parks Victoria sacked its last chief executive Bradley Fauteux in mid-September, 10 months into his term, after he allegedly engaged in serious unacceptable conduct.

The case was referred to the Independent Broad-based Anti-Corruption Commission.

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