For the first time British Columbia government has released travel expenses of MLAs after a strong report by the Auditor-General had said the financial books were a mess. But critics are still maintaining that this does not reveal much and there is no transparency in the way MLAs spend taxpayers’ money.

The expenses released Wednesday cover the first six months of this fiscal year, from April 1 to Sept. 30, and show B.C.’s 85 MLAs spent a total of $1.5-million.

The biggest spender was New Democrat Robin Austin, who billed $53,606 during the period, followed by Speaker of the Legislature Bill Barisoff, a Liberal, whose expenses were $46,410, and Columbia River-Revelstoke New Democrat Norm MacDonald, who billed $45,332.

Stikine New Democrat Doug Donaldson’s travel expenses were $42,678, while Cariboo-Chilcotin Liberal Donna Barnett posted $27,732.

The posting of expenses came only after Auditor-General John Doyle released a report this summer, saying the books of the B.C. Legislature were so chaotic that it was impossible to tell if money was being well spent.

Mr. Doyle’s report found that MLA credit card bills were being paid without receipts and the legislative assembly hasn’t produced financial statements despite a 2007 recommendation from the previous auditor-general.