July 9, 2011

Not Julia's fault ... nothing ever is

PM Julia Gillard had a little bit of good news today:  the gobsmacking waste of taxpayers money and failure to revolutionise education (i.e. school buildings) is not her fault, not one jot, even though she was the Minister in charge.

It's all the fault of the construction industry.  They had nothing to do with coming up with the concept (didn't lobby or dream it up), nor anything to do with designing the model or dreaming up the whopping big budget.  Still, the failure to achieve "value for money" is the fault of the industry, not the government's and not the public servants who assessed the tenders and handed out the contracts.

The taskforce into the $16.2 billion Building the Education Revolution school's stimulus scheme has called for a review into the construction industry after it found the nation's two largest states had failed to deliver value for money under the program.
The third and final report into the BER, handed down yesterday, found that $1.1 billion was wasted in delivering public school buildings to NSW and Victoria, when compared with their Catholic counterparts.

The report, headed by former investment banker Brad Orgill, called for a Productivity Commission review into the construction industry as a whole after it uncovered a raft of problems in the way projects had been delivered under the scheme.

Mr Orgill found some governments had lost the expertise to properly manage building projects.  "We believe their poorer performance on both cost and observed quality has been influenced by the hollowing out of public works capacity over the last 20 years, which has limited the ability to effectively manage an outsourced delivery model," the report said.
So an enquiry should be held into the construction industry, not into the government whose scheme it was, not into Julia Gillard who was accountable, and not into the public sector which, after decades of outsourcing, apparently has no idea how to manage such arrangements.

And just a little reminder:  BER is the scheme so staunchly defended by Gillard, for months on end.  In dozens of interviews she condescendingly and dismissively waived away all questions, as if every interviewer was a blithering idiot.  On television, there was the fixed haughty smile, or the pursed lips as she momentarily asserted the wonders of "value for money", clearly having no idea what it means, let alone whether it was true of her vaunted BER program.

This outcome is appalling.

Gillard was not then, nor will be now, held accountable for a criminal waste of federal funds.

Only $1.1B wasted from the whole package?   I don't think so. 

(Remember the Gold Medicare concept?  That was Julia's too.  Every lousy policy with her name to it since then has demonstrated the same failure to apply intellectual and economic rigor.)

Building the Education Revolution waste blows out to $1.1B

Schools fail test on building revolution

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