View Comments
Serco: We welcome scrutiny
Joe Francis and James McMahon. Picture: The West Australian/Steve Ferrier

The Australia-Pacific chief executive of private contracting giant Serco says he welcomes a public inquiry into its performance in WA, promising the company would "participate openly".

After weeks of calls from WA Labor and the Prison Officers Union for a public inquiry, Serco boss Mark Irwin has revealed he recommended to Corrective Services Commissioner James McMahon that the company and the department commission a wide-ranging review.

The call from Serco for greater public scrutiny of its operations comes after high-profile and damaging escapes under its custodial management contract with the State Government and detention centre contracts with the Federal Government.

Three prisoners and 10 detainees have fled from Serco's custody in the past month.

"We have recommended to the commissioner that we jointly commission a wide-ranging independent review into the management, operation, policy and procedures of WA Court Security and Custodial Services," Mr Irwin said.

"We would welcome any independent, evidence-based inquiry and would participate openly, as we have done in the past."

Mr Irwin said Serco was subject to "rigorous" review including contract key performance indicators, independent oversight from the Inspector of Custodial Services and Parliament and was subject to Freedom of Information laws.

"Our contract is publicly available," he said. "We report regularly to the department and annual reporting on the contract is tabled in Parliament. We work for the public and we should be subject to this scrutiny. But as we have said before, we want to be judged on the facts."

The Opposition renewed its attack yesterday on the Government and the company over their close links. Shadow corrective services minister Paul Papalia claimed the company had overcharged in a quote for the transport of a prisoner between Derby and Wyndham.

Serco rejected the claim.

Mr Papalia produced quotes claiming the job could be done for $6673 when Serco had quoted $14,401 and he called on the Government to release the "public sector comparator" by which value for privatisation contracts is judged.