Super system upgrade costs members. More revelations from inside UniSuper. Yesterday we said millions of dollars are being spent on an administration system upgrade that has corrupted member data and put super funds at risk. Well we were “spot on”, according to another company spy. Sort of. “Only it is not millions, but tens of millions!” they say. “And, there is no end in sight. It is simply an outrageous waste of members’ money. The worst aspect is that given its structure, there is no accountability for any of them.”

But the Community and Public Sector Union, which has a representative on the trustee board, says it’s satisfied members’ super is not at risk, calling Tuesday’s ABC 7.30 report on funds being short-changed as “exaggerations”. It said in a statement yesterday:

“Reports concern a decision by the fund to monitor the investment returns on the adequacy of the ‘Defined Benefit’ fund over the long term to meet members’ benefits. The defined benefit fund covers about 80,000 of the 400,000 of UniSuper members.

“The media reports have been misleading, and somewhat dangerous, as they could cause members to make financial decisions which may be to their detriment.

“They have also caused confusion about the extent of the review and led some members to believe the whole fund ‘was at risk’.”

Queensland Health split, no money down. We asked for Queensland Health insiders to step up and talk about the fraud scandal and plans by the state government to split the department into two. One clinician reveals to us the real problems:

“The announcement of the imminent break-up took us all by surprise, although you’d have to expect that it’s been in the planning for a while for Anna Bligh to be able to announce a plan so quickly. It took until yesterday (three days later) for the director-general to be organised enough to send an email around talking about it, which suggested he was blindsided as well. I’m a clinician in Queensland Health, and I can’t see that it’s going to make a huge amount of difference. A figure rumoured from several years ago was that only 50 cents out of every dollar made it to patient care. Creating two departments is surely going to cause more inefficiencies and allow them to hire some extra bureaucrats to administer two agencies instead of one.

“Our hospital has recently been gripped by admin fever. Our weekly clinical meetings now have people from finance coming to tell us what buzzwords to write in the patient’s charts to maximise our funding instead of a senior doctor teaching the junior doctors how to treat sick people. We now work for admin for the betterment of the budget instead of them working for us to help the sick. No doubt a future government will bemoan the inefficiencies caused by the split and re-amalgamate the two. In the meantime, those of us that look after patients will try to get on with it — in spite of admin’s efforts, not because of them.”

NT manager accused of inappropriate actions. A disturbing report from the Top End about a manager of the federal government’s emergency intervention accused of wrongdoing in the community. An anonymous tipster relates:

“What is Minister Jenny Macklin and her senior officers in her department doing about a government business manager accused of inappropriate actions with respect to a community employee? Senior members of the community have written to the manager and told him to leave the community. It appears that he still has a contract despite his inappropriate actions. This contract should be cancelled.

“Why hasn’t it been cancelled? Well this person is part of the ‘in’ group who are looked after by senior managers. Those in this group seem to be a protected species. If the department does not get rid of this manager and just moves him to another community, as the churches do when they find a problem priest, then an investigation should be held into why these people are protected. These incidents happened three months ago and there’s still no response to official complaints.”

No laughing matter at ABC over Boys. More questions are apparently being asked about the management of comedy at ABC TV, after the broadcaster failed to nominate Chris Lilley’s Angry Boys for several Logies categories. As one industry type noted: “The ABC being the ABC, any one of 15 people could be blamed for the oversight, but responsibility ultimately rests with head of comedy Debbie Lee. No one doubts Lee’s exceptional abilities as an executive producer, but many comedy folk are less than gruntled with her placement as yukfest supremo.”

The argument goes, we’re told, that Lee has an aptitude for “inner-city” comedy-drama such as Laid — “comedy that isn’t funny,” says our tipster — and not so much for sketch material or more low-brow fare. “The results when she tries, like At Home With Julia, are less than impressive. The Logie blooper is costly; Lilley is one ally she can’t afford to lose.”

Troops pay stalled but officers get bonus. From the front lines, a solider is angry. “When I was a young Digger and in the field, the officers always ate last because they looked after the troops,” they write. “Today, I see our pay not even keeping up with inflation due to the latest RWA, but the chief of the Defence Force has his pay doubled, and he says nothing. And don’t give me that bullshit about independent tribunals — the one that forced us to accept 9% over three years was also independent.

Peter Fray

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