Qld IT minister accused of being paid to see Technology One

New scrutiny over Ros Bates' lobbyist register has found that not only did she meet several times with a single technology provider, but she also accepted donations from it.
Written by Michael Lee, Contributor

Queensland IT Minister Ros Bates has been accused of accepting donations from Technology One in return for several meetings with the company.

Bates has been under fire recently, after she voluntarily tabled her register of activities with lobbyists and they were found to be inaccurate. At the time, Bates blamed the incomplete list on an administrative error, explaining in parliament sittings earlier this month (PDF) that a staffer provided only one of two spreadsheet tabs containing the full list.

"The original document was tabled in haste by my staff member after 6 o'clock and Estimates. It was an administrative error that anybody could have made. It was a mere Excel spreadsheet. There were two pages to the Excel spreadsheet. It was faxed, at the behest of the opposition, during that time," Bates said.

Bates subsequently tabled an amended register that brought the total number of lobbyist contacts from 30 to 77.

The new register (PDF) reveals that of 13 meetings held with various lobbyists, Bates met with Technology One four times via Santo Santoro Consulting, and an additional time at a Technology One luncheon.

In comparison, Bates only met with larger organisations Computer Science Corporation, Australia Post, PricewaterhouseCoopers, Westpac, and ASG Group once each during the same period. The register also shows that Bates never spoke to industry giants Hewlett-Packard and UXC, despite requests by these companies to meet the minister.

The new register itself may still not provide a full picture of Bates' interactions with Technology One or other groups. Even though it lists meetings, phone calls and emails from lobbyists, it does not cover direct contact from other organisations. For example, Technology One general manager John Vickers contacted Bates the night prior to IT Queensland's ICT Forum on May 31, as detailed in his speech, yet no record of it exists on the register.

ZDNet contacted Technology One for comment, but did not receive a reply at the time of writing.

The Courier-Mail also reports that Technology One made AU$3,000 in donations. This is despite businesses and individuals only being legally permitted to donate up to AU$2,000. However, when counted as individual donations from Technology One's regional manager Steve Terry and operating officer Roger Phare, they could be considered legal.

It is unlikely that Bates will appear in the last sitting of parliament for this year to respond to the claims. Over the weekend, Bates was admitted to hospital following a fall at her home. The injuries to her back will mean that she will remain in hospital for up to a week, and then continue on medical leave for a further two to three weeks.

Education Minister John-Paul Langbroek will take up Bates' portfolio in the meantime.

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