Services Australia’s chief information officer, Charles McHardie, told the hearing he and his team prepared status reports on the project every month and that Robert was briefed on the findings.
“Each of the projects are rated against certain evaluation criteria, how the tracking financially, how we’re tracking with schedule, etc, so they’re presented every month,” he said.
“And then they were reviewed at an implementation committee where we came together as deputies and also regular reporting to the CEO.”
Asked whether Robert saw these reports as minister, McHardie said: “No, we didn’t provide program status reports to him. We did brief him on how the project was trending.”
The answers prompted Labor Senator Anne Urquart to check with Special Minister of State Don Farrell during the hearing to ask him whether she was correct to say the government had not ruled out referring the matter to the National Anti-Corruption Commission for an investigation.
“Yes, you are,” Senator Farrell replied. The government has not previously raised the idea of a referral to the NACC, which is being set up this year.
The government ordered a review of the Infosys deal and other contracts with Services Australia and the National Disability Insurance Agency in the wake of this masthead’s reporting last November, with the results of that inquiry expected next month.
The review is being led by Ian Watt, a former secretary of the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet.
Robert was minister for government services from May 2019 to March 2021. The Infosys contract was negotiated in the final months of 2019 and formalised in November that year, but problems emerged during 2020 and McHardie said the terms were revised in November 2021.
The leaked documents revealed by this masthead showed that Synergy 360, owned by Milo and Queensland investor John Margerison, claimed Robert attended meetings with their clients including Infosys when he was the minister responsible for major projects.
Robert has denied helping Synergy 360 and its clients to win government work and denied any conflict of interest while he was a minister. Further, this masthead is not suggesting that Robert was paid for his advice and assistance.
Robert has known Milo for many years and has previously shared ownership with Margerison in a company, JM National, that owned commercial property and shares in listed companies.
Cut through the noise of federal politics with news, views and expert analysis from Jacqueline Maley. Subscribers can sign up to our weekly Inside Politics newsletter here.