Fraser ‘broke every fucking rule’ for the best reason, IBAC hears

By David Donaldson

Wednesday March 16, 2016

Colourful language and pointed character assessments featured at the penultimate day of the Independent Broad-based Anti-corruption Commission hearing into the Victorian Education Department’s doomed Ultranet software system.

Former deputy secretary Darrell Fraser “broke every fucking rule in the book and spent millions of dollars he shouldn’t have spent”, according to the recorded phone call played in court yesterday.

Former Education Department acting deputy secretary John Allman said in the intercepted phone call that although he believed Fraser broke a lot of rules, he did not do it for personal gain but “for the good of fucking education”.

Allman, who bought shares in Ultranet contracting company two days before the contract was public announced, told a friend in November 2014: “I’m not saying there’s not crooked stuff happening in the department ’cause there is, but he’s not part of it.”

“I know Darrell. He’s not a fucking crook. He’s just a recalcitrant c–t,” Allman said. “That’s just the way he did business.”

He added that if Fraser was found to have made personal gain from his position, “I’ll bare my arse at the top end of fucking Bourke Street.”

Witnesses have told the inquiry Fraser swayed the tendering process for the Ultranet software system — which was originally budgeted to cost $60 million, but blew out to as much as $240 million before being scrapped — favouring a consortium of CSG and Oracle. He later took a job with CSG. The inquiry also heard of an environment of fear during his time at the department.

In a call with Education Department south west regional director Matt Dunkley prompted by the news the situation was being investigated by IBAC, Allman discussed how he had “destroyed evidence”.

Dunkley can be heard saying to Allman: “well, thing is you told me you fucking destroyed all the evidence as soon as you knew … the empire was gone, mate … you told me that you just fucking deleted that shit — got rid of it all, kept yourself squeaky clean. Once you knew this was going on.” Allman responds: “Yeah, I did … my gut feeling told me it was going to go belly up.”

He told the hearing he attended an Ultranet board meeting without declaring his CSG share ownership. CSG was contracted with the department, in consortium with Oracle, to deliver the Ultranet project. Allman maintained he was only in attendance as an observer and did not see himself as being connected to the governance of the project, so did not need to declare a conflict of interest. Commissioner Stephen O’Bryan noted that the meeting minutes recorded Allman making a contribution, however, which would “suggest you weren’t just observing”.

Allman admitted his earlier statement on why he decided to buy shares in CSG to a 2011 KPMG investigation — that a friend had given him a tip and his purchase just before the contract announcement was a coincidence — was not true. Instead, he told IBAC he overheard a hand-free conversation in the car between Fraser and department employee Ben Cushing discussing CSG before he bought the shares.

“It was not an accurate reflection of what occurred.”

Allman also expressed displeasure about being asked too many questions by the then-secretary of the department, Richard Bolt.

In a call that took place the day after Bolt asked Allman about his share purchases, Allman said to Dunkley: “did I tell you Richard fucking brought me undone yesterday? He’s a c–t … ” Allman told the inquiry he couldn’t recall what he meant by the comment that Bolt had brought him undone.

Darrell Fraser will make an appearance on Wednesday for the final hearing for IBAC’s Project Dunham inquiry.

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