‘Who knew what and when’ is the question being asked in relation to the loss of millions of dollars to a fraud at Ballarat Health Services.
State member for Western Victoria Joshua Morris has moved a motion in Parliament calling for an investigation into the handling of the matter by state Health Minister Jill Hennessy.
The Government rejects any claim of a cover-up and has released a timeline of communications between BHS, the Health Department and the Minister’s office.
“The intent of the motion that I gave notice of in the Legislative Council was for the Premier of Victoria Daniel Andrews to initiate an independent investigation into the Minister for Health’s handling of the multi-million dollar fraud that has occurred at Ballarat Health Services,” Mr Morris said this week.
“I strongly believe the community has a right to know what has happened in this case, and allegations that the Minister has been involved in a cover up of this particular fraud are very concerning. I believe the community has a right to know what’s happened in this case.
Mr Morris said he understood that while police investigations needed to run their course, the minister responsible should have informed the public exactly what was happening.
“If the average member of the public was asked if whether or not they had a right to know about this, I certainly believe that they think that they would,” he said
Mr Morris said not informing the public struck at the heart of the Government’s boast of being open and transparent.
“We’ve seen them backflip on that and try and bury these significant frauds that have occurred,” said Mr Morris.
In response to questions posed by The Courier, Health Minister Jill Hennessy released a statement defending the response made by both the Government and the Ballarat Health Service.
“At every step of the way appropriate and swift actions have been taken by the Government and the Health Service. Any suggestion otherwise is simply untrue,” wrote the Minister.
She said BHS became aware of and informed police and their insurer of the fraud on July 11. BHS wrote a letter to relevant ministers the following day, and the Department of Health and Human Services briefed the Health Minister’s office on July 13.
Ms Hennessy said the Acting Minister for Health had written to the Minister for Consumer Affairs requesting guidelines for Victorian public health and community services to “protect themselves against future attacks by these callous criminals.”
“I have full confidence in Victoria Police and Interpol to bring the full weight of the law against those responsible for this fraud.”
BHS board chair Rowena Coutts said the board was notified immediately management became aware of the issue, and were aware of all investigations.
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