Labor in South Australia. Is the Labor Government of South Australia controlled by the Catholic Right? That was the rather provocative theme of a speech delivered by Mr Gary Lockwood — President of the Australian Society for the Studies of Labour History Adelaide Branch — at a meeting of the Florey Sub Branch of the ALP on Monday 21st February 2011. It certainly provides an interesting insight into the way power is shared in the state and the full text of the speech is on Crikey’s The Stump website.

Some wisdom from the Trujillo era. As I read this week about the problems the Victorian police force is having with its attempt to set up a new database to guide its work I was reminded of one piece of wisdom that Sol Trujillo brought to Telstra those few years ago.

One of his American amigos — the name escapes me — surveying the mess that was the company’s billing systems declared that there would be no attempt to design a solution internally. Any IT bureaucrats who even suggested such a thing would be given their marching orders. Telstra would look for a system that someone else somewhere else had made work.

Wise words indeed as the Victorian police episode shows where there has been a $100 million cost blowout for a new police computer system. As AAP reports this morning, plans to replace the trouble-prone LEAP database with a new system called LINK have been scrapped, while the police department develops a fresh business plan to present to the government before next year’s state budget.

They say the new system will cost a further $100 million, in addition to the original $61 million budget, and take two years to implement.

This means the LEAP system, which has been plagued by problems, including the mistaken release of confidential files of up to 1000 Victorians, will continue for at least the next three years.

Hopefully the new approach will not involve trying to re-invent the police computer equivalent of the wheel. A sensible government would just purchase a system that actually works at some other force somewhere in the world.

It would surely be a frightening thing to add up all the hundreds of millions of dollars that governments state, federal and local, have wasted on attempts to develop their own technological solutions.

First the good news from Europe. Spain has escaped, at least temporarily, from the clutches of the money men by successfully borrowing 3.4 billion euros on bonds maturing in 2021 and 2024. Average yields on the 10-year bond rose to 5.472 percent from 5.162 percent in the last auction, but demand was solid, outstripping what was on offer by 2.1 times.

And so to Greece and the continuing bad news. A Reuters poll showed an overwhelming majority of economists believe Greece will eventually have to restructure its 325 billion euro ($468 billion) debt mountain, although most said it would not happen for at least a year.

Rising expectations that Greece will have to restructure a debt load that is one-and-a-half times its annual output — similar to that of Zimbabwe — have shaken the nervous calm that had descended on euro markets in early 2011 and raised doubts about whether leaders can restore confidence in their bold 12-year-old currency experiment.

Peter Fray

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