Why Bruce Lander is worried about SA’s Health: ICAC will detail maladministration by December

By Stephen Easton

November 1, 2019

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More details emerged this week about what the South Australian anti-corruption commissioner means when he says SA Health is “riddled with maladministration” and there are more to come between now and Christmas.

The SA Independent Commissioner Against Corruption, Bruce Lander, has already said poor record-keeping is one of the main problems in the department and he believes it is probably obscuring more serious sins.

“Better record keeping, in my opinion, would identify more corruption,” Lander said recently, launching a retrospective report on his six years in the role that argues the state public sector is afflicted with a plague of poor administrative process.

The former Federal Court judge recently outlined six areas of concern in a letter to SA Health chief executive Chris McGowan, which was shared with all SA Health staff and later the local newspaper.

He will publish a report explaining his concerns in further detail by December, The Advertiser reports.

“I consider it important to place these matters on the public record,” Lander reportedly wrote in the leaked letter. “What further action if any is taken in relation to them is of course a matter for others.”

The commissioner is worried that poor record-keeping in the health department and local health networks means significant decisions have been made without an appropriate paper trail that can be audited.

Lander suspects some employees might not be fulfilling their end of their employment contracts; that “deficiencies” in regulation of private medical practitioners might be leading to higher costs; and that conflicts of interest are not being managed properly. He also harbours concerns about the management of clinicians and cultural issues, according to the news article, which also reports McGowan’s email to staff.

The CEO reportedly said public servants should exemplify “the best professional behaviour in our society” and that he expected no less of SA Health staff. They should not only comply with the public sector code of ethics, they should go above and beyond, he added, and report maladministration to the agency’s hotline or Lander’s office directly.

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