Brad Orgill was appointed by Julia Gillard to tidy up the mess of her mega-rorted Building the Education Revolution. He’s been painted as an ”independent” watchdog.
Yet his report yesterday, while admitting there were hundreds of formal complaints and claims of rorts, went a long way out of its way to minimise the political damage.
Most importantly, Orgill noted the 254 complaints amounted to just 2.7 per cent of the BER school projects - but without pointing out that this is likely to severely underestimate the scale of the rorting, since:
- the complaints are limited to those from schools, most of them state ones led by principals who might well feel it not in their interests to make a fuss - not least because the vast majority of them serve under state Labor governments.
- state school principals in states such as Victoria have not been given the costings of their projects, and are not in a position to judge value for money.
- principals are naturally more interested in (and grateful for) getting a new building than in worrying about whether taxpayers paid too much for them.
Orgill also upheld the stimulus claims of the government, although half the spending was actually allocated after the threat of recession was gone, and work on many projects is yet to be completed or even started:
Gillard herself is excused the blame for a program over which she had formal oversight:
The report lays blame for much of the waste in the program on the states, noting that “while the Commonwealth provided the funding and developed the guidelines, implementation and delivery was the responsibility of Government and non-government education authorities in each state and territory”.
You may well believe these are the honestly held views of an impartial businessman, having cast a sceptical eye on the government’s claims. But how impartial - or politically neutral - is Orgill in truth?
From the following Q&A with Orgill, we find the former chairman and CEO of UBS Australia has great admiration for far-Left writers, sympathisers of terrorists in Iraq and deep-Green protesters, and is committed to “affirmative action” for women in executive positions:
Those who are performing well, those who are seen as potential leaders of the firm and there is still a bias towards women in that we still feel we don’t have enough senior women in our ranks…
But if you could choose a mentor from anywhere in the world, who would you choose today and why?
I think I would choose Arundhati Roy, author of The God of Small Things.
I think her perspective on life, post colonialism and her appreciation of things that I’m interested in but don’t have as good a perspective on as she does.
For Roy’s views on supporting terrorists in Iraq and Marxists in India, go here.
People I admire like Richard Flanagan, I think he is fantastic. Have you read his book, The Unknown Terrorist? He also wrote the article in a magazine that got Geoffrey Cousins concerned about the Tasmanian pulp mill. His book is just fantastic, it’s about this woman from the western suburbs of Sydney who really has a pretty tough life. It’s a novel that preceded but paralleled (anticipated really) the Haneef case. People like that I like to read.
Here’s a bit about that book that Orgill so admires, from a column I wrote at the time:
Richard Flanagan, another prize-winning and taxpayer-funded author, also has a new novel that Australian Bookseller and Publisher hails as “an important book in dark times” inspired by a “disgust with Howard’s Australia”.
As Flanagan told the ABC’s 7.30 Report: “There is something else that’s going on in Australia, a sort of spiritual malaise that I find sickening, in a word.”
And to counter this “spiritual malaise” he’s written The Unknown Terrorist, a tale of a brutal government and lying media, which his publisher promotes with a video that lingers long on the spiritually uplifting breasts of a topless dancer.
This book doesn’t simply demonise Australia. It also gives one of the sweetest excuses for suicide bombers in its preface, written in the author’s own voice. Writes Flanagan: “In his understanding that love was not enough, in his acceptance of the necessity of the sacrifice of his own life to enable the future of those around him, Jesus is history’s first, but not last, example of a suicide bomber.”
BRAD Orgill’s report card gives Julia Gillard’s $16 billion Building the Education Revolution stimulus a tick. This is for delivering both “much-needed” school infrastructure and “economic activity across the nation”.
Wrong on both counts. In particular, the BER could not have “saved” Australia from recession, as Gillard claimed yesterday, because we’d already dodged the bullet by the time it ramped up.
The damning evidence is relegated to a single chart, presented with no explanation on page 75 of Orgill’s report. This shows that BER construction for the nation’s 7900 primary schools only seriously got going by October last year—eight months after it was announced—when cumulative actual spending first topped $1bn. But, by then, it was clear Australia had escaped the global recession, thanks to Labor’s initial cash splash, the Reserve Bank’s big interest rate cuts and the momentum behind our China-fuelled mining and population boom… BER delays mean that only $6.7bn had been spent by June this year, even though the jobless rate had fallen to 5.1 per cent, employment had risen by 350,000 in the past 12 months and the Reserve Bank had lifted interest rates six times…
Orgill’s report provides no evidence that the infrastructure built by these stimulus workers is “much needed”.