A DOZEN climate change authority executives racked up a restaurant bill of almost $2000 in a bid to get to know each other.
The dinner was held so the executives of the outfit created in July to review and make recommendations about the carbon tax and other federal government green schemes could meet in "an informal setting" to better their "collective decision making" capacity.
Executives dined at swish Melbourne eatery The Italian Restaurant and Bar on a $135-a-head menu of New Zealand king salmon, calamari, caprese salad, southern supreme beef, gnocchi with oyster mushroom and vanilla panna cotta with dark chocolate, News Limited reports.
The dinner, which the authority planned to spend $1620 on but receipts show a cost of $1740, on November 20 last year was the night before a major board meeting.
"It is bad enough that Labor established a raft of new bureaucracies to manage its carbon tax but now it seems that those bureaucracies are literally dining out on the taxpayer," Liberal Senator Simon Birmingham.
"Many Australians will rightly wonder why the carbon tax they're paying through their higher electricity prices is being used to pay for expensive dinners.
He said the Coalition would scrap the agency if it won the September election.
A spokeswoman for the authority said the meeting was to allow authority members to meet informally.
"We are a newly established agency, we have got nine authority members from diverse backgrounds and locations to date they have had one opportunity to meet informally," she said.
"We wanted to provide them with an opportunity for an informal gathering with both the board members and senior executives to get to know each other a bit better.
"They need to be able to be a collective decision making body so it is important they know each other.
"It was the night before one of our critical board meetings."
Authority members at the dinner included Bernie Fraser, Lynne Williams, John Marlay, Professor David Karoly, Heather Ridout, Elana Rubin, Professor John Quiggan and CEO Anthea Harris, the spokeswoman said.
In its first five months the authority has spent a total of almost $4000 on catering with one bill for a stakeholder meeting with authority staff at Sydney's Sofitel Hotel expected to cost $645.
Catering for meetings at Climate Change Authority offices has varied between $21.80 during staff interviews and $442.80 for a staff planning day in October, an answer to budget estimates has revealed.
Read more at AdelaideNow.