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Dec 31, 2012

Bligh government phone account debacle

Cartoon: Baloo Cartoons


The Bligh government’s fiscal policy was like something from one of those Simpsons episodes in which Bart had got hold of Homers credit card and went wild with it.  It was pretty much carnival time on the taxpayer’s dime with government spending considered the highest of virtues.
The Ski Jumping Centre of Excellence in sub-tropical Brisbane, and the $700,000 egg shaped rock sculpture in an inaccessible area are two of the ultra-stupid ideas hatched by them.  The Health Department payroll debacle, in which an untried system replaced the previous one and didn’t work despite the waste of hundreds of millions in fixes, was another, but it is now revealed that they couldn’t even organize a phone account: 
The Sunday Mail can reveal that a whole-of-government telecommunications deal signed in 2011 commits the current administration to a prescribed level of annual expenditure.
However, public servants are not texting, dialling or googling anywhere near enough to meet the "committed spend" contract, which does not expire until mid-2014. 
The Newman Government has confirmed it received a $15.3 million bill from Optus for under-spent telecommunication services in 2011.  The bill arrived just three days after the LNP took office in March.  Another bill for about $18 million is expected to arrive within weeks. 
The botched communications contract adds to a long line of bungled IT decisions and controversial spending under Labor, from the health pay system rollout to $700,000 for an egg-shaped rock art work in a remote location. … 
Negotiations have been occurring behind the scenes for months between senior government members and Optus in a bid to prevent taxpayers wearing the cost of unused communication services.  But the contract is believed to be watertight, making negotiations to avoid the unnecessary costs amid Budget cutbacks difficult. 
Mr Crisafulli said the Government would continue efforts to reach a sensible agreement with Optus.  "I am certain other ICT providers would welcome the fact that this Government, unlike the last, is seeking real value and better services not pipedream proposals that don't deliver," he said. …
While it’s difficult to imagine that such a deal could be done without some sort of corruption involved, there is little evidence of SingTel-Optus donating in a lop sided manner toward Labor.  They seem to have favored the Liberal Party as far as political donations go.
We probably have to chalk this one up to ineptitude or bloody minded stupidity.

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