Estimates
Estimates

$162K a year public service job is a doozy

TAXPAYERS will pay up to $162,000 a year for a senior bureaucrat to brief the Health Minister so he can answer difficult political questions at parliament's annual Estimates Hearings.

The lucrative position of Queensland Health's Director of Estimates - with a pay packet of $147,000 to $162,000 - was advertised last week, with the successful candidate to lead the two-person Estimates Team in the Office of the Director-General.

Their key responsibilities will include developing "comprehensive briefing packages and other resources to support the Minister for Health and Ambulance Services, Director-General and other senior executives during the annual estimates process".

Health Minister Steven Miles at this year’s Estimates hearings. Picture: Annette Dew
Health Minister Steven Miles at this year’s Estimates hearings. Picture: Annette Dew

They will also "manage the flow of information for the annual estimates process" between the Minister's and Director-General's offices and different Hospital and Health Services (HHSs).

The Courier-Mail can confirm QH is the only government department with such a position. Ministers are questioned once a year by Opposition and Government MPs during the estimates process on portfolio expenditure.

The process can sometimes lead to embarrassing admissions and this year Mr Miles was forced to announce the rollout of the state's troubled electronic medical record system, ieMR, would be delayed at some hospitals.

The existence of the specialist estimates job can be revealed after a leaked email last week showed QH staff were ordered not to perform ieMR upgrades during parliament sitting weeks, seemingly so the Government could avoid embarrassment if problems occurred.

The system was brought down for several hours recently when a planned upgrade went awry.

Opposition Leader Deb Frecklington said the Government was too focused on covering up its failings.

"This is another example that (Premier) Annastacia Palaszczuk's health priorities are all wrong," she said.

Queensland Opposition Leader Deb Frecklington. Picture:AAP Image/Jono Searle)
Queensland Opposition Leader Deb Frecklington. Picture:AAP Image/Jono Searle)

"Labor has wasted money on failed IT projects, renaming hospitals and now cover ups.

"Surgery waiting lists have blown out by 66 per cent and ambulance ramping is the worst on record under Labor."

A QH spokeswoman said the role was not new and had become vacant following a recent retirement.

"As the agency with the biggest budget, QH takes the estimates process very seriously," she said. "Across the various HHSs there are more than 22 witnesses. QH aims to ensure they all have the very detailed information required."



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