Queensland govt may chase IBM via royal commission

Summary:The Queensland government may chase IBM down through a royal commission in how Queensland Health's payroll system failed to perform as expected.

Queensland Premier Campbell Newman has hinted that his government may announce a royal commission into the Queensland Health payroll debacle before Christmas.

Thousands of public servants have been underpaid, overpaid, or even unpaid after a flawed IBM system was introduced in March 2010 by the former Labor government.

The debacle is set to cost Queensland an estimated AU$1.2 billion to fix by 2017, the Liberal National Party government said.

Last month, opposition leader Annastacia Palaszczuk released cabinet documents revealing that the former Labor government had a strong case to sue IBM over the failed system, but had instead opted to settle.

The documents brought into question whether the new Newman-led government would remount a case against IBM, as Health Minister Lawrence Springborg said at the time that it may take action in the form of an inquiry.

When asked today if a royal commission would be announced before Christmas, Newman told ABC Radio, "Maybe. I'm not saying today, but I totally agree with the sentiments.

"It is under serious consideration, there's no secret of that. This is ... arguably, the largest, single public-sector project funding debacle of all time in this nation. And I don't think it's appropriate to just be sort of written off. I don't think that's going to happen."

The premier said that, while potential witnesses were concerned about legal indemnity, the government was "very, very sympathetic" to the idea of an investigation.

The debacle itself has had an effect on Queensland Health's front line, with the Liberal National Party blaming it for the cut of 1,500 jobs .

It has also made the state government much more cautious about its plans to unify and outsource its payroll functions for its other departments.

Topics: Government, Australia, Government : AU, Health, IBM

About

A Sydney, Australia-based journalist, Michael Lee covers a gamut of news in the technology space including information security, state Government initiatives, and local startups.

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