An inquiry into the Royal Adelaide Hospital project by the Legislative Council Budget and Finance Committee has been confirmed for next month.
Shadow Finance Minister Rob Lucas said representatives of the private sector project team and Health Department bureaucrats will be required to attend the hearing on October 8.
“This committee inquiry has been necessitated because of Premier Weatherill’s refusal to allow the usual parliamentary scrutiny by the Public Works Committee,” Mr Lucas said.
“Whilst Mr Weatherill has been promising transparency and accountability, he and his Ministers have been trying to prevent scrutiny of one of the most costly infrastructure projects in the state’s history.
“Whilst the up-front capital cost of the RAH will be $2.1 billion, taxpayers will have to pay an average payment of $397 million every year for 30 years from 2016, or almost $12 billion. Taxpayers have every right to expect there will be a proper level of scrutiny of such massive amounts of money.
“Section 16A(1) of the Parliamentary Committees Act requires the Government to refer every public work which exceeds $4 million to the Public Works Committee for investigation.
“However, in an extraordinary twist Mr Weatherill appears to be trying to exploit a loophole by arguing because it is a public-private partnership and taxpayers’ money isn’t paid until 2016, it doesn’t meet the criteria and doesn’t have to be referred to the Committee!
“The Budget and Finance Committee, because it is not controlled by Government Members, will have the power to pursue any issues identified by the inquiry, and also continue to monitor the project until completion in 2016.
“This possibility of continuous monitoring will significantly increase accountability as the usual Public Works Committee process is conducted at the start of the project.
“Health bureaucrats will also be asked to justify the reasons for significant financial details of the PPP contracts being concealed and whether they can be revealed at some stage. Details of spending on issues such as soil remediation, public art, aboriginal healing gardens and so on will also be sought.
“Premier Weatherill and Minister Hill stand condemned for their continued lack of transparency and accountability on this critical project.”