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IN OPPOSITION, Gladys Berejiklian was a vociferous critic of the RailCorp bureaucracy. Story after story about waste and mismanagement at RailCorp's headquarters at Central Station came with an obligatory damning quote from the then shadow transport spokeswoman. It was her relentless attack-dog approach that won her a place in Barry O'Farrell's heart and succession plans.
Rapidly approaching a year in power, the Transport Minister is finding that turning around the entrenched culture of mediocrity and waste among the 15,000-strong RailCorp workforce is harder than talking about it.
Actually, it's a bit like trying to kill the Terminator - take a shotgun to it and it grows another arm and continues on its way.
Take, for example, the NSW Auditor-General's latest check of RailCorp's pulse, which suggests there is no meaningful difference in the way the rail workforce is managed under Labor or the Coalition.
Peter Achterstraat and his team found overtime payments had actually increased over the past year at a cost of $134 million. RailCorp workers receive an average $10,352 on top of their wages every year in overtime. But, as always in the public service, some workers are more equal than others. The highest overtime recipient topped up his or her base wage of $79,500 with $72,103 in overtime payments. Does this person work around the clock? The Auditor-General doesn't specify but anyone who has sat in on ICAC hearings related to RailCorp and its work practices would safely assume not. A total of 442 employees were paid 50 per cent or more of their annual salary in overtime in the 12 months to June 30.
Achterstraat acknowledges in his report that RailCorp has been ''building on strategies'' to reduce overtime but he laments: ''Overtime is still a significant area of controllable expenditure that needs more effective management by RailCorp.'' He then turns his attention to the equally persistent problem of contractors milking RailCorp, with a second call for management to crack down on them. At least four contractors have worked for RailCorp full-time for more than six years, while 224 contractors cost at least $1000 each a day.
When you consider it costs taxpayers $2.4 billion every year to keep RailCorp in business, it is imperative that Berejiklian pulls the brake on the gravy train.
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