The three taxpayer-owned electricity companies involved in the Perth and South West market spent more than $2.2 million last financial year on staff entertainment and associated fringe benefits tax.
The biggest spender was regulated monopoly network company Western Power, which spent $469,575 on meals and venue hire, $190,936 on recreation and incurred $634,148 of associated fringe benefits tax for a total of almost $1.3 million, according to answers to questions on notice in State Parliament.
Retailer Synergy spent $266,118 on meals, $170,864 on corporate boxes and $17,045 on staff rewards and recognition. Its associated FBT bill was $225,815, for a total spend of $676,842.
Generating company Verve spent $179,864 on entertainment with an associated FBT bill of $83,636.
Shadow energy minister Bill Johnston said the Government had to get a tighter rein on the utilities' entertainment expenditure and singled out Western Power's spending, up $200,000 on the previous year, as extraordinarily bad.
"Western Power doesn't work in a competitive environment," he said. "A future Labor government would not allow expenditure to get out of control and go up 20 per cent in 12 months."
Western Power acting managing director Paul Italiano said most of the utility's spending was to recognise the work of crews during events such as last month's storms when crews worked 16-hour shifts to restore power.
"In addition, spending goes towards recognising long-serving employees, outstanding contributions by staff, engineers completing their graduation programs and apprentices completing their apprenticeships," Mr Italiano said.
"There is also a proportion which goes towards Western Power-led consultation sessions and forums with its customers and members of the community."
A Synergy spokeswoman said corporate hospitality spending was "an investment in attracting and retaining Synergy's customers".
Spending on staff entertainment was to ensure Synergy was "an employer of choice".
A spokesman for Energy Minister Peter Collier said Western Power had promised to cut spending that incurred FBT 20 per cent over the next four years.Over the past four years the energy utilities had been reminded of their obligation to watch discretionary spending. .
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