The Hon. Rob Lucas MLC

The Hon

Rob Lucas MLC

Treasurer

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Health budget in total disarray

Thursday, 4 August 2011

Evidence to the Budget and Finance Committee this week has confirmed the Department of Health and its budget are in total disarray.

Under Treasurer Brett Rowse confirmed May budget figures showed the health budget had blown out by $88 million and the Labor Government had now appointed both Deloitte and Ernst and Young to help sort through the problem.

Shadow Finance Minister Rob Lucas said this followed blowouts of $210 million, $120 million, $70 million and $94 million in the previous four years.

“Even more worrying was Mr Rowse’s evidence that Treasury was still trying to set a rigorous employee cap number and that Health had 118 more staff than they were meant to have,” Mr Lucas said.

Mr Rowse: “One of the difficulties we have is that we are still having difficulties in establishing an appropriate cap number for Health. We have had this trouble for a considerable amount of time now. They are currently working with some consultants with the objective of trying to get a rigorous cap number established as quickly as possible, which we anticipate will be early in the current financial year. That is one of the difficulties we have had in the past in comparing their actual FTE numbers at any particular point in time with what the cap should be, and we have not been able to lock down a figure which both Health and ourselves have been happy with to date.”

(Budget and Finance Committee, 1/8/2011, p721)

“Mr Rowse said Ernst and Young are helping Health to try and establish the FTE employee cap and Deloitte are looking at overall budget management approaches and strategies,” Mr Lucas said.

“Mr Rowse also concluded there was a need for more detailed financial information to be published for individual health units such as hospitals. This sort of detail has been lost over the years as aggregated information for the whole department has been highlighted.

“It is unacceptable that after almost 10 years of Labor Government, they have been unable to estimate a ‘rigorous employee cap number’ for the Health department. It is yet another example of Labor’s slack financial management practices.

“Rather than fighting over the leadership, Labor needs to get on with the far more important business of running the state.”
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