Western Australia's BCITF and funding to Thiess for the Dawesville Channel (Cut) project
In the early 1990s Workplace Reform was all the rage.
Plant operators couldn't simply learn to drive Cat or Komatsu earthmoving equipment better. They had their "workplace reformed through the application of innovative learning solutions in the workplace".
Workplace Reform was best achieved through computer aided learning and through innovative new strategies like video fillums, or CD-ROMs that contained video fillums that could be shown on TV screens that were wheeled into lunchrooms by newly-minted trainers. (Trainers who were especially selected for their singular ineptitude in making the video machine on the second tray of the video-fillum-TV-trolley work, to get it all to work required the opinions of at least 6 burly men approaching the machine with loud advice).
The Dawesville Cut was no different. A Video Fillum company was duly employed to create innovative video based learning solutions that were put on the medium de jour, the CD ROM.
This innovative approach to Workplace Reform produced a bonanza for various video, multimedia, lawyerly, training and other sections of the economy that were stimulated by the Hawke/Keating government's training guarantee. This little insight into some of the matters that the BCITF and the multimedia company Resolutions got themselves into over Intellectual Property Rights gives those of us who lived through the time wistful insights into the value-creating things that exercised our minds.
Keep in mind that the innovative workplace reform taking place at Dawesville was all about how to drive earth moving equipment better. Here are some of the innovative workplace reforming forms that formed part of the reforming formwork. (Seriously, skim it quickly, you could find your faculties reformed if you take this "innovation" too seriously).
The following set of minutes from a meeting about the workplace reform and innovation taking place at Dawesville gives an insight into the project. As you can see, sadly neither Thiess nor the AWU could make it, but the video company Resolutions was there, as were the government bureaucrats, and they spent a lot of time talking about marketing their innovative workplace reform CD-ROMS.
I have a personal interest to declare, a confession to make. From 1993 to 2000 I was an executive with Telstra, initially employed to manage a $60M project to design, construct and operate a statewide mobile radio network for Victorian Government agencies. The themes in this stuff from the BCITF are so familiar to me you could just change the names and agency acronyms and it would all fit - probably for any project that was taking place at the time. So I'll get to the point.
Here is the Thiess submission for funding from the BCITF.
You will notice the importance placed on the role of the AWU. Astute readers of the blog will have observed the prominence of the AWU name in the BCITF annual reports, and the emphasis on the innovative nature of the MOU between Thiess and the AWU in delivering Workplace Reform in an innovative way.
So what deliverable, what specific role, what return for money expended was accounted for specifically against the AWU. Nothing.
Nowhere in the BCITF paperwork will you find a single line item requiring the delivery of a single thing from the AWU. Nowhere will you find reference to a bill from the union, or any acquittal for services delivered.
The billing relationship was entirely between Thiess and the AWU. Thiess paid the AWU WRA on its submission of invoices for "workplace reform advisers onsite". Thiess does not pass this cost on directly to the BCITF by way of a specified account. But Thiess does produce and rely on the "innovative workplace reform agreement" between it and the AWU to set the tone of the workplace reform activities going on at Dawesville.
In closing, remember this. Every cent that went into the Thiess financial accounts associated with the Dawesville Channel (Cut) project was government money. The "things" that Thiess delivered were paid for and owned by the taxpayer. There is no doubt that taxpayers own Parliament House or the Hume Highway - the Dawesville Cut is the same. So is the notion that taxpayers own the other outcomes of the payments they made to Thiess, and that Thiess had a duty of care to administer those taxpayer payments diligently.
There is no doubt in my mind, that extended payments, going to a fictional incorporated association that produced absolutely nothing in return, represent a singular case of fraud and corruption, passed off as innovative workplace reform.
The Western Australian Government can hide behind the board minutes of its BCITF and try to pretend that taxpayers got value for money from CD-ROMs and Dozer Driving Forms. But what value did it get from buying Bruce Wilson a loveshack and handing him hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars?