Adjourned debate on second reading
(Continued from 18 May 2017)
The Hon. J.A. DARLEY ( 15:43 :52 ): The purpose of this bill is to enable the government to continue to pay the wages of public servants. It is important that any state budget is used efficiently for the benefit of the people of South Australia and not wasted on unnecessary matters—for example, with regard to the O-Bahn project. The government embarked on this project to reduce travel time for residents in the north-east to go to the city and return by avoiding delays at intersections such as Botanic and Hackney roads. It was suggested that, for each of the approximate 1,000 bus journeys made on the O-Bahn each day, travellers would save 3½ minutes.
In reality, I understand the 3½ minute savings would only apply for two hours each day, that is, between 8am and 9am and 5pm and 6pm, Monday to Friday. Furthermore, the savings did not take into account the additional time taken to walk back to Rundle Mall or North Terrace from Grenfell Street for passengers working in those areas.
In the 2016-17 budget, the Valuer-General was provided with an extra $2.8 million to commence a five-year rolling revaluation program. I have made several attempts to obtain specific details of how the project was to be undertaken; however, the information I have been provided lacks detail and direction for the project. We are now within three weeks of the 2017-18 budget being presented to parliament. Not only should the Valuer-General be able to articulate details of the revaluation program, they should also be able to provide details of what has actually been achieved in the past year since they received the additional funding.
In July 2015, PIRSA commenced an investigation into the problem and possible solution to spray drift issues between dryland farming undertaking grazing and cropping activities and adjoining vineyards within areas in the Barossa Valley. After questions were raised about the project, I was advised that the investigation was being undertaken by an informal committee which had no terms of reference and no projected time line. Under persistent questioning, a final report was produced with no effective recommendations. This informal committee has now been dissolved and replaced by a new committee comprised of the CEOs of PIRSA, DPTI and Primary Producers SA. I question the effectiveness and purpose of the initial committee if a new committee is now looking at the same issue two years later.
In the 2016-17 budget, the Investment Attraction Unit within the Department of State Development had a target to distribute $15 million to attract businesses in South Australia. In questioning at the Budget and Finance Committee, it was revealed that the $15 million target had been achieved at a cost of $13.6 million to the state. This seems like an extraordinary use of public moneys.
There have also been large-scale failures within large and medium-scale government computing systems. The health department and Treasury has spent well in excess of the budget amounts to develop the EPAS and RISTEC systems. The Department for Communities and Social Inclusion had to scrap its attempt to develop a pensioner concession system when the cost escalated to about 10 times the original estimate. Whilst it is important to make sure that computing systems are developed correctly, it is also important that customers (in this case, government departments) know what they want the system to do so that the software developers create programs which do what is needed in line with approved budgets and time lines.
These are but a few examples of the sort of inefficient outcomes of the Public Service, and government should ensure that these are not to be repeated in the future. With that, I support the second reading of the bill.