The following appeared earlier today.
Health rejects Opposition calls to reveal NEHTA spending
- Karen Dearne
- From: Australian IT
- October 14, 2010
THE Health Department has refused to reveal how much the National E-Health Transition Authority has spent on travel in the past financial year, saying the taxpayer-funded body is not required to report such information under its funding agreement.
"Provision of this information to the department is not required, and is not provided in NEHTA’s annual reports," the department said in response to questions on notice from Senate estimates hearings in June but only published this week.
Liberal Senators Sue Boyce and Concetta Fierravanti-Wells have been pursuing details of NEHTA’s spending and accountability to parliament over the past year.
Senator Boyce sought details of the amount spent on domestic and overseas travel, the number of officers going on overseas trips and the purpose of the trips.
Last month, it was revealed that taxpayers have forked out more than $1.4 billion on specific e-health initiatives over the past 16 years, with around half of that sum spent since NEHTA was established in 2005.
Senator Boyce has previously expressed frustration NEHTA representatives cannot be compelled to appear before Senate estimate hearings and inquiries, citing immunity as a private, jointly federal and state-owned corporation.
NEHTA has been allocated almost $350 million in total funding up to July 2012, including $206m spent during 2006 and 2010. Half of the funds comes directly from the federal government, and the rest from the state and territory governments.
Lots more here:
To be honest, while I know politicians love to ask these sort of questions, I really don’t much care about the sum involved as long as when considered against what they are doing it is reasonable and not grossly excessive.
What I do care about is having a publicly funded organisation like NEHTA using a legal fiction (of being a limited company) to prevent it being accountable to the Senate and our other elected representatives. This just reflects a culture that is much of what is wrong with NEHTA overall.
Until the Auditor General gets into NEHTA and does a serious value for money audit of just what we have received - as the public for the $350 million - I will not be convinced there is not just a huge funding through here and a large number of snouts having a bit of a funding ‘pig out’ in a rather unaccountable way.
If all is kosher what has NEHTA to loose in asking the Auditor General in?
Of course the culture of secrecy and spin is also needing to be addressed and getting the truth on the value for money being delivered would go a good way towards having an effective ‘sunlight’ cure for that too!
It is time the Senate bit back and referred to matter to the Auditor!