July 13, 2012
Software problems caused havoc with Queensland Health workers' pay packets.
The former Queensland state government planned to roll out the disastrous Queensland Health payroll system across all its departments, the new government says.
Queensland Health Minister Lawrence Springborg has told a Queensland Nurses Union conference the health department was to be a guinea pig for a wider overhaul of the government's payroll system.
Since the flawed system was introduced in March 2010 thousands of staff have been underpaid, overpaid, or not paid at all.
The debacle is set to cost the state an estimated $1.2 billion to run and fix by 2017.
Mr Springborg was facing angry nurses, upset over proposed laws allowing the department to automatically deduct future overpayments from health workers' pay, with consultation.
The union says the plan is discriminatory because it will only apply to health workers.
The minister said that was because the payroll bungle affected only Queensland Health employees, but it could easily have affected all government workers.
"This debacle has not had the chance to contaminate across government," he told the conference in Brisbane on Friday.
"And indeed, ladies and gentlemen, it was the proposal of the previous government that this wild, weird and wacky system was going to be tested on Queensland Health and rolled out right across government.
"What we're looking at here is Queensland Health as guinea pigs."
He called the bungled system a "gift that was given to them by other government agencies" and promised to try and work through the issues with the union.