The Rann Government’s attempt today to gloss over the “missing USB scandal” had left many unanswered questions.
“Mr Foley’s claim today that most of the documents on the missing USB “would be of little value to bidders” is completely contrary to evidence given to parliamentary committees by senior Treasury and Health officers,” Shadow Minister for Finance Rob Lucas said today.
“The Under Treasurer Jim Wright told the Legislative Council Budget and Finance Committee that the missing USB device did contain documents which contained “confidential information” and that he had received that advice from senior Health Department officers.”
Mr Wright also advised the Committee of concerns raised by the probity advisers:
“The probity advisers have advised that the loss of the USB stick gives rise to a risk that the project may not be conducted in a fair and even-handed manner as all respondents may not have access to the same project information that was on the stick.”
“Mr Foley must explain the massive inconsistency in his media release issued today.
“On the one hand, he claims the information on the missing USB device was of “little value to bidders”; yet on the other hand, he then says bidders will have to sign legal undertakings to govern their behaviour if the USB device comes into their possession.
“Mr Foley can’t have it both ways,” Mr Lucas said.
“Mr Foley and Health Minister John Hill must now table all the advice they have received from their probity advisers and the Ernst & Young report on this scandal.
“Today’s media release also reveals the stunning news that one of the three prospective bidders – Plenary Health – had now dropped out of the bidding process.
“This now means only two bidders will progress to the RFP stage for the $1.7 billion hospital project with a resultant significant loss in competitive tension in the bidding process. This is especially so as industry sources are already freely commenting that one of the two groups is in a much stronger position than the other bidding group.
“If one of these two remaining bidders was to now drop out, the prospects of the Rann Government delivering a successful public-private partnership are reduced significantly.
“The Rann Government’s record on PPPs so far has been poor.”
• The prisons PPP was cancelled at the last moment and total taxpayer costs including compensation could be up to $15 million; and,
• The “Super Schools” PPP ended up costing about $10 million more than if the traditional public sector build model had been used.