Cost blowout, inter-departmental stoush revealed by documents found 'in the gutter'

By Stephen Easton

April 11, 2019

Public service leaders never like to awake to headlines about cost blowouts and inter-departmental disputes, especially when the source of the information is documents left lying around in public.

The ABC’s Darwin bureau reports Northern Territory taxpayers might be up for about $1 million to replace an elevator recently installed at the Gove Hospital because it is the wrong sort, based on 52 departmental papers found “in the gutter and garden beds” beside a city street.

A picture suggests they were thrown out with the general rubbish; perhaps they flew out the back of a garbage truck.

It’s not clear who found the documents, or how they came to the ABC, but they reportedly suggest a strained relationship between the NT Department of Health and the Department of Planning, Infrastructure and Logistics, which responded to the article with a different story about the lift.

It said a goods elevator was installed and now one for patients would be added, contrary to a quote from the papers suggesting “installation of the wrong type of lift at Gove ED” required a $1m replacement.

The DOH told the ABC it continued to work in partnership with DPIL and had no other comment but the documents suggested Health officials were not impressed with their Planning colleagues, according to Jano Gibson’s report.

They reportedly felt it had trouble identifying authorised decision-makers and made unapproved changes to projects, was “very resistant” to conducting post-project reviews for high-value and critical projects, inaccurately estimated project costs and failed to communicate effectively with DOH.

One suspects all this could have been avoided if the internal information had been handled more carefully.

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