TWO Education Department fat cats on massive salaries have left the public service after wasting more than $20 million over four years on a scheme to help tradies that has been so bungled it still hasn’t got off the ground.
The Australian Apprenticeships Management System, meant to track tradies studying skills to help the government manage shortfalls in vital sectors, is $15 million over its initial budget, has been reviewed 11 times and is so unusable it has been suspended without being finalised.
The total cost to the public will be at least $24 million, with the final review by Pricewater-house-Coopers costing $185,497
alone. The Daily Telegraph can reveal department deputy secretary Subho Banerjee left his position earlier this month.
He had taken “personal leave” for most of April just days after being forced to clarify incorrect information given about the scheme during Parliamentary hearings. Emails reveal Dr Banerjee, who earned up to $350,000, oversaw the program. Education Department secretary Michelle Bruniges told staff on April 4 that “Subho Banerjee is on personal leave for the next month” and on May 1 wrote he had “decided to leave ... to pursue other opportunities”.
A senior manager in Mr Banerjee’s office has also left.
Dr Banerjee could not be reached for comment, and an Education Department spokesman declined to answer questions. Dr Banerjee was initially questioned about the scheme, which was meant to be finished by July 2016, by Labor skills spokesman Doug Cameron.
He said the waste of money was “another major blow to the apprenticeship system”. The government’s Digital Transformation Agency was forced to step in late last year after it found a “worsening overall status” from “Amber to Red”.