It's worth making further mention of the ambulance consultancy to Mr. Grant Griffiths that was meant to have cost $45,000. That's the one that blew out to $1.5 million.
Griffiths was subjected to a Police raid in October 1997 after it was revealed that he was working for both the Ambulance Service (MAS) and Intergraph at the time that Intergraph was awarded the lucrative $170 million Emergency Services Despatch contract in December 1994.
Three weeks later he was appointed Chief Executive of Intergraph. The Police department also used the Intergraph system and were later accused of being tardy in their investigations of alleged corruption in relation to the awarding of the contract. Comrie himself publicly defended Intergraph after Auditor General Ches Baragwanath published a bombshell report in April 1997 that labelled the contract process as 'corrupt activity'. Essentially Comrie said that Baragwanath had got it wrong.
The Minister in charge at the time, Marie Tehan denied seeing a ministerial briefing note on 16 February 1996 that had been given to her and warned of possible corruption in the tender process. (Many don't believe Tehan's denial).
Probity checks on Intergraph and its directors weren't completed until after the contract had been finalised. One director, Grant Griffiths (see above) had struck a deal with creditors in 1990 over debts of nearly $10 million, paying back just $236,000 two years later. These had arisen after he'd allegedly been burnt by the stockmarket crash in 1997.
In August 1998, the AAT heard Intergraph's former account manager, Mr. Ali Erzeren tell how the man in charge of Intergraph's bid for the contract was Jeff Kennett's mate and that Intergraph would get the contract even though there was knowledge that the bid was fraught with problems.
Erzeren said that the Intergraph bid's senior manager, Mr. Shane Tyrell, who was a Liberal Party member (and at the time was hoping for pre-selection) said that Tehan was 'an easy touch'. According to Erzren, Tyrell boasted of Kennett being his 'mate' and that his long-term aim was to become Police and Emergency Services Minister.
Erzen said that Intergraph's computer system had compatibility problems so the firm launched a bogus bid for the contract instead. He said he was sacked by Tyrell after he tried to make an issue of the fundamental flaws in the Intergraph system.
At the same AAT hearing, one of Tehan's staff members John Kerr talked about a high-level directive not to release briefing notes on Intergraph to the opposition as part of their FOI request due to the fact they were embarrassing for the government. Another senior official, John Bethune refused to answer questions about the 'missing memo' on the grounds of possible self-incrimination.
On 2 December 1998, Judge Ian Wood of the AAT directed that the government release the Intergraph documents, including a report by government appointed bureaucrat Ian Gaudion into the matter. Like in the casino matter for which Wood handed down his ruling against the government one day earlier, Wood again rejected the 'commercial confidentiality' argument by the government as a red-herring.
At the time of the Intergraph scandal, when Tehan was health minister, her media PR man was James Tonkin. He later moved to the Victoria Police. There's no doubt he'd now be able to defend the Intergraph system from more than one angle.
THE MISSING MONEY – YOUR TAXES AT WORK
The Human Services Department had spent hundreds of thousands of dollars attempting to keep that legal advice hidden from the public. However in spite of this legal advice, Minister Rob Knowles took the unusual step of writing off the debt.
A Police brief of evidence leaked to the opposition said that the Police had found evidence of:
1. Possible criminal charges of collusive tendering, conspiracy to defraud and obtaining financial advantage by deception in relation to the tendering of state two of the Commercial Review of the MAS involving Griffiths Consulting.
2. Possible offences of collusive tendering, conspiracy to defraud, and obtaining financial advantage by deception relating to outsourcing of the MAS fleet maintenance contract also involving Griffiths Consulting.
3. Possible offences relating to false accounting and obtaining financial advantage by deception in relation to the use of Griffiths Consulting to provide part-time MAS employees.
4. Possible offences of misfeasance (unlawful acts) in public office and perverting the course of justice relating to failure to disclose AAT documents to Mr. John Thwaites, Labor's parliamentary health spokesman.
The government's lame excuse for not pursuing the criminal charges or the debts through the courts was because they said it would cost more than they would be likely to get back as result of any actions.
That the excuse was outrageous is demonstrated by the fact that most criminal charges or other government legal actions do not get anywhere close to cost recovery.
A quick perusal of The Hoser Files gives many appropriate examples. Furthermore noting that it costs an average of over $100 a day to keep a person in prison, similar reasoning could be used not to charge anyone with serious/jailable offences.
Meanwhile it wasn't surprising that Griffiths denied allegations he was being favourably treated by the authorities over the missing money and related matters.
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