Queensland Premier Campbell Newman said he has not ruled out taking technology giant IBM to court over its role in the $1.2 billion Queensland Health payroll failure, against the advice of the state’s own investigation into the saga.
IBM appeared to be off the hook, at least in a legal sense, when Richard Chesterman QC handed down the findings of his Commission of Inquiry into the failed project this month, and concluded that the Government was not in a legal position to recover any funds through the courts.
But today the Premier revealed he had received alternative legal opinions that contradict Chesterman’s findings.
“We’re not giving up on the issue of whether we can take legal action against IBM,” he told journalists at a press conference this morning.
“There have been suggestions of other ways to look at IBM’s conduct and to see whether the state can mount a legal action against them and we’re investigating those outlets.
“Should there be believed to be a case there, I’m more than happy to go after IBM on legal matters associated with this whole sorry saga.”
Since the report was tabled, the Queensland Government has brought down a total ban on agencies procuring goods and services from IBM, until it is satisfied the company has made improvements to its governance and contracting practices and has taken action against a number of its own employees.
The Premier also confirmed this week's sacking of at least “four or five” senior public sector employees connected to the project from “a variety of departments”, but declined to identify those affected.
“In relation to Queensland public servants, I can confirm that a number of people will have their employment terminated, and that decision has already been made by myself and the Public Service Commissioner.
“These people were adversely named, there has been a proper full inquiry, they have been found to have acted inappropriately, negligently...and it is appropriate and important that action be taken,” Newman said.
The sacked workers could be the first heads to roll as the Public Service Commissioner works through a criteria that will determine who was inexcusably complicit in the downfall of the project.
“There will be other people that will be looked at and the Public Service Commissioner has gone to check on a range of issues, a range of individual cases.”
Newman said some other named employees who had worked to make up for project shortcomings in the years since might still keep their jobs.
“In those situations, with those mitigating factors, those individuals might well remain in the Queensland public service,” he said.