Estimates: Department of Premier and Cabinet (Social Impact Bonds)


Ms CHAPMAN: Can you explain how the social impact bond is going to work? Who pays into it and what do they get?

The Hon. J.W. WEATHERILL: They are essentially philanthropic investors who are prepared to accept potentially lower rates of return in return for also getting some collateral social purpose.

Ms CHAPMAN: So, cheap labour in exchange for the common good. Is that what we are talking about?

The Hon. J.W. WEATHERILL: No, not at all. In fact, trials of social impact bonds in the United Kingdom and New South Wales have shown some encouraging early results, but it is too early to say with certainty how effective they are. Some people are actually prepared to make a private sector investment which might achieve a rate of return for themselves, but they are also interested in achieving a collateral social benefit.

I suppose it is a bit like some people who choose to invest in ethical investments in their superannuation fund which, interestingly enough, have a higher rate of return than the market rate of return; I was very pleased to read from my statement the other day. So, you can do good things and also make money. Isn't that a wonderful thing? I think that is what these people have in mind. If the programs are successful, the government pays a return to the investor commensurate with the level of success, using agreed measures of outcomes

Mr GARDNER: The New South Wales trials are in relation to child protection and juvenile justice. The main British trial going on at the moment is in relation to the corrections area. Why is minister Snelling leading this work for us?

The Hon. J.W. WEATHERILL: He had a particular interest in it. Obviously there are significant opportunities in the healthcare system, which is our largest area of expenditure, so it does represent the largest area of opportunity. However, they are all things that will perhaps be clearer in the fullness of time.

Mr GARDNER: So there is no proposal on the table at the moment to have that transfer specifically in the health sector, or are we just waiting to see what happens?

The Hon. J.W. WEATHERILL: No, it is early days. I am not aware of any specific health proposal, except for the one canvassed in the discussion paper about avoiding the inappropriate placement of people in hospitals from nursing homes.

Ms CHAPMAN: At the forum last year was it, for 800 people to come together and talk about the ideas? What has happened since?

The Hon. J.W. WEATHERILL: I think we decided, as I mentioned, that it was necessary before we moved to the next step to build the capacity in the non-government sector so that they will have the capacity to participate in the trial. I think there was a view that if we launched upon this without that capacity then it had a greater risk of failure. The organisation that we have selected to help with that has been involved in the Social Benefit Bonds Trial in New South Wales.