|Description of this AgencyDescription of this Agency|
The original Letters Patent setting out the terms of reference of the Metropolitan Ambulance Service Royal Commission and appointing Mr Lex Lasry QC as Royal Commissioner were issued by the Governor in Council on 21 December 1999. The establishment of the Commission had been announced by the Premier (Mr Steve Bracks) in the Legislative Assembly on 8 December, 1999. The Premier stated at that time that the newly elected Government had made a commitment both during the election campaign and in its joint commitment to the arrangement between the Labour Party and the three Independent members of the Victorian Parliament. This commitment was to conduct "an inquiry into the ambulance contracts affair surrounding the award of the Intergraph contracts and the subsequent failure to disclose documents concerning the matter, and also whether phantom phone calls were used to manipulate performance indicators
As part of the policy of privatisation of aspects of previously government - run activities and as a result of a review of the Metropolitan Ambulance Service in late 1992 and early 1993 there were immediate and far-reaching reforms. The MAS board was replaced by an administrator, new financial information systems and management information systems were instituted, a new computer aided dispatch system was implemented and other aspects of the operations of the sevice were out-sourced. In 1993, the Intergraph companies successfully tendered for the supply of the new dispatch system. In December 1994 this contract was varied for Intergraph to provide the call-taking and dispatch functions with the arrangement becoming operational on 29 August 1995.
Another issue of concern arose with respect to the outsourcing of the MAS Non-emergency Stretcher Transport services and possible conflicts of interest in the award of the contract. These matters provoked a number of significant Freedom of Information requests where neither release nor disclosure of documents occurring with some documents subsequently being 'leaked'.
Investigations into the management of contracts and their award were reported upon adversely by the Auditor-General. A subsequent report by Mr Ian Gaudion produced similar findings. An investigation was also conducted by the Victoria Police into related matters.
The original terms of reference of the Royal Commission reflected all of these concerns, with the Commissioner being directed to investigate the development and implementation of a computerised communications system, the consulting and outsourcing arrangements made for or on behalf of the Service, the legality and propriety of payments made to consultants particularly with regard to their documentation and the failure to make those documents public, whether staff members of Intergraph had made calls to the dispatch service to meet certain performance standards or to increase the entitlements of Intergraph and to investigate thoroughly those actions, whether there had been any illegal or improper failure to release or disclose documents under Freedom of Information with a number of specific cases being listed and whether there had been any illegal or improper conduct in dealing with a specified Ministerial Briefing Note.
Six amendments were made to the Letters Patent of the Royal Commission with four of these altering its terms of Reference. The amendment of 16 May 2000 deleted Term of Reference 8 (to do with Freedom of Information requests relating to contracts and outsourcing practices) and expanded Term of Reference 5 to include 5(b) regarding illegal or improper conduct in enabling Intergraph to meet performance standards. A further amendment on 30 May 2000 deleted Term of Reference 3 (to do with the outsourcing of a number of other Metropolitan Ambulance Service functions) and amended Term of Reference 7 to reduce the number of Freedom of Information requests to be inquired into. Terms of reference 1, 2 and 4 (to do with outsourcing contracts and consultancy services) were deleted by new Letters patent of 3 October 2000. The same amendment expanded new Terms of Reference 5A which expanded the powers of the Royal Commissioner to investigate the '000' issue. On 21 June 2001 the scope of term of reference 7(b) was further clarified. Other amendments to Terms of Reference were to do with extensions of the reporting date for the Royal Commission.
The Royal Commissioner finally reported on Terms of Reference 5, 5A, 6, 7 and 7A.
The Royal Commission report was tabled in Parliament on November 27, 2001 in accord with the date set in the 24 July 2001 Letters Patent.