Newman confirms Qld govt will chase IBM via Commission of Inquiry

IBM has found itself in the sights of the Queensland government again after the state premier officially gave the green light today for a Commission of Inquiry into what happened with the Queensland Health payroll debacle.

Queensland Premier Campbell Newman has announced a Commission of Inquiry into the bungled Queensland Health payroll system.

Earlier this week, Newman hinted that the state government may consider a royal commission into the flawed IBM computer system introduced by the former Labor government. The system saw thousands of public servants underpaid, overpaid, or left unpaid.

Newman has now confirmed that, rather than a Royal Commission, a Commission of Inquiry will go ahead, beginning February next year. He said that this inquiry will have all the powers of a Royal Commission.

The inquiry will be headed by former Court of Appeal Judge Richard Chesterman QC.

"We need to make sure this never happens again," Newman said. "This surely cannot be swept under the carpet."

However, the Queensland Nurses Union has slammed the inquiry, saying that it's an attempt to distract from mass job cuts.

The union's secretary, Des Elder, said an inquiry is a waste of money, and the money would be better spent reversing some of the "savage" cuts to jobs and services in Queensland Health. Earlier this year, the Newman government slashed 1,537 health jobs and blamed the losses on the payroll debacle.

"We have had at least nine inquiries into the payroll already and we do not need another one," Elder said in a statement.

"It was an administrative mess-up, and we should just put it down to experience and get on with delivering health and aged care services to the people of Queensland."

IBM had appeared to consider the issue to be over in March last year, with IBM Australia's Managing Director telling ZDNet that the project was "behind us and behind Queensland".

However, the Liberal National Party sought to dig up the past, obtaining documents from the former government, which showed that it had a strong case to sue IBM .

An independent report by accounting firm KPMG earlier this year estimated the total cost to run and fix the system would be AU$1.2 billion .

KPMG also found that the bungled system blew out this state's annual health budget by AU$150 million.