Queensland opposition leader Annastacia Palaszczuk has described the Newman government’s decision to sue IBM for damages over the Queensland health payroll disaster as “simply a waste of taxpayer’s money”.
Speaking to reporters this afternoon she pointed out that the state government’s own commission of inquiry into the project failure, conducted by former Supreme Court judge Richard Chesterman, concluded that the state had no legal foundation for a case.
“Richard Chesterman said there is no point pursuing [IBM],” she said. “So my concern is that it is a waste of taxpayer’s money when this money could be going towards allowing people to have the surgery that they need.
“How much is [the case] going to cost this government?”
This morning a spokesman for Queensland Premier Campbell Newman confirmed that the state had lodged a statement of claim with the Supreme Court to commence formal proceedings against the company it engaged to carry out the replacement of Queensland Health's payroll systems — IBM.
The announcement comes just three months after Chesterman tabled the findings of his three month review of the fiasco, and advised that “there are now no means by which the State may seek damages from IBM for breach of contract”.
He explained that on 22 September 2010, after a series of threats and counter threats, the then Labor government and IBM entered into a “supplemental agreement” which released IBM from any legal liability once it had completed a series of specified works by 31 October that year.
“The combined effect of clauses 5.1 and 6 was that, upon IBM carrying out the works required by 31 October 2010, it was released from any future claims for damages and any remaining warranty obligations for the system.
“This meant that any ongoing responsibility for new or unresolved...defects rested with the State. It also meant that the State would be responsible if the system were to fail,” wrote Chesterman in his final report.
If the government has received alternative legal advice, Palaszczuk said today, then they should let me public know about it.
“In the past we released our legal advice. If it is so important for them to pursue this avenue why won’t they release their legal advice?” she said.