Qld may hold Royal Commission into payroll bungle


blog It’s been one of the biggest IT-related disasters in Australia’s history, it’s going to take $1.2 billion to fix, and it’s even the subject of complex legal discussions between prime contractor IBM and the Queensland Government. Welcome to the world of Queensland Health’s colossal payroll systems overhaul bungle. Today’s news is that the state’s LNP Premier Campbell Newman has canvassed setting up a commission of inquiry (also known as a royal commission) to get to the heart of the matter. ABC Radio’s PM program quotes Newsman (we recommend you click here for the full interview):

“There’s no secret of that. It’s been canvassed in the Parliament but I’m not in a position to say today. But I believe that Queenslanders deserve to hear what’s gone on. This is a $1.2-billion debacle, arguably the largest single public sector project funding you know debacle of all time in this nation and I don’t think it’s appropriate that it just be sort of written off or we say, oh well, too bad, so sad and move on. I don’t think that’s going to happen.”

In my opinion, there is no real need for a royal commission into this issue. We’ve already had half a dozen audit reports and third-party consultant investigations (separately, by PWC, Ernst and Young and KPMG) into what went wrong and what needs to be done to fix the situation. I could understand Queensland’s LNP administration’s desire to hold a further investigation into the disaster if Queensland Labor was a serious political force — what better instrument to keep on beating the former Government around the head with than the Queensland Health payroll systems disaster?

However, with Queensland Labor reduced to a shell and the LNP facing a generation in government … I think the state’s population would rather that Newman and Co just got on quietly with the job of fixing things. You know … the reason the LNP was elected in the first place?


  1. Renee – is there real, serious evidence that Queensland Government – both the elected members and the appointed managers – has learned about governance of IT? Is there evidence that these lessons have been learned by the wider community – both those who use IT (the people who run the various private and public sector enterprises) and those who supply IT (from the solo in-house IT manager to the major multinational IT corporation), across all sectors of the economy?

    I say “bring it on” – a royal commission is a brilliant opportunity to learn and lock in lessons that, for some reason that this commentator cannot fathom, seem to be trenchantly resisted by all parties in the marketplace.

    Despite all of the reports to date, there still doesn’t seem to be a clear recognition that the heart of the QH payroll debacle was an absolute and total failure of governance, which all parties should have been able to see, understand, and rectify. It’s not as if there isn’t adequate guidance – assess the project (based on published information) against ISO 38500 and its predecessor AS 8015, and it becomes abundently clear that every principle for good governance was violated, from the outset.

    • “Despite all of the reports to date, there still doesn’t seem to be a clear recognition that the heart of the QH payroll debacle”

      As a public interest measure maybe but most managers involved already know where this went wrong. The point that Renai makes is there is probably no appetite for a spend on such a commission in the electorate. The LNP was put in to clean up the mess that was QLD government, its processes, and its finances. That included this payroll system. Throwing much needed money at an inquiry is counter productive.

      If anything, I’m still surprised Springborg (the Health Minister) has only so far speculated on throwing the whole thing in the bin. Me thinks there is probably a lot more activity on a cost-benefit right now than is publicly known. He’d be amiss if he wasn’t doing it and so far he has been right on step with where you’d expect any competent minister to be heading. So in that respect I guess he is doing better than his predecessors.

      • .. and there is news going around that there will be an Inquiry. I’m not sure what this will do for us other than tell us it was a complete stuffup.

    • You forget something really basic Mark, even though what you have said is ok. That Political Parties will always utilize anything they can, by any means, to drive a knife in deeper to those they despise. And LNP has over a decade of grudges to work through yet. They love blood on the floor. I just wish they’d go extinct! We’d be better off with out them or their opposite. Couldn’t be a more worse stuff up than we have now.
      Oh sorry, they have only just started. It will get worse.

      • They’ll be lucky to get a second term the way they asre currently going…we have long memories for this stuff.
        Though apparently some don’t…when CanDo said Joh was his idol it was immediately obvious to me what his government would be like…I can’t believe others didn’t pick it up.

        • Well Can Do Campbell is really a “Can’t”. Say that word 3 times rapidly and you’ll get my drift.

  2. So they going to waste more money with a royal investigation which will prove nothing.

    Shit broke! Learn from the mistake

    • Adam, how do we learn from the mistake unless we actually uncover what the mistake was?

      A commission might be expensive, but another similar experience will be far more expensive.

      Once is an accident – twice is a coincidence – three times is a habit – and this habit needs to be broken, completely.

Comments are closed.