Projects undertaken by the previous Western Australian government, including the troubled IT roll-out at the Fiona Stanley Hospital, are to be investigated in an inquiry announced yesterday by newly elected Labor Premier Mark McGowan.
The politically charged probe, which will delve into the spending of the Barnett government as the state amassed a $35 billion debt during the state’s mining boom, will scrutinise major state projects and broader financial management.
Among the contracts to be scrutinised will be the Serco IT roll-out at Fiona Stanley hospital that lead to significant cost blow-outs, as well as the long-delayed opening of the Perth Children's Hospital, the Department of Health’s IT procurement, and the GovNext ICT project.
Other projects probed include the construction of the QEII Hospital’s multi-deck car park, Karratha Hospital relocation, construction of the St John of God Midland Public Hospital, the NurseWest casual nursing and midwifery staff pool, and the outsourcing of non-clinical services including IT staff.
According to the terms of reference for the $1.5 million inquiry, it will look at the contract terms, risks, transparency and financial consequences of the projects undertaken during the Liberal/National government’s eight years in charge of the state economy.
Opposition Leader and former treasurer Mike Nahan said the spending was due to publicly disclosed, legitimate infrastructure investment.
"We did invest in a lot of infrastructure, we invested in the [Perth] Stadium and Perth Children's Hospital and Elizabeth Quay. Those are all fully itemised in the budget, examined by the auditor-general, assessed and debated in detail. There's no secrets here."
The WA net debt is predicted to hit $42.3 billion by 2020.