Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2010 Week 14 Hansard (Wednesday, 8 December 2010) . . Page.. 5965 ..
We know nine doctors left the unit. This is just not the opposition; there are voices in the community, voices representing the doctors. Let us just look at what the Health Services Union said. This is from an ABC online article entitled, appropriately, “Gallagher ‘covering up’ maternity unit report”:
The Health Services Union says there is a broader problem with the way bullying claims are handled.
“It just seems to be endemic and also the process is so lacking in transparency and information,” said union spokeswoman Bev Turello.
ACT Health says it has written to the people involved in the inquiry.
But the Ms Turello says in the union’s experience, staff are often kept in the dark.
“They need to know if action has been taken, if appropriate action has been taken, if they’re going to be safe in their workplaces.”
We have got the union saying that they need to know if they are going to be safe in their workplace, and we have got the minister saying, “I don’t want to know.” So it leads us to speculate—because we can only speculate—as to why this minister is so desperate to cover this up. I do not know. I do not know why this minister is so desperate to cover this up. But if you had nothing to hide, if the department had nothing to hide, why would you cover it up? Why would you be so desperate to cover it up?
As Andrew Foote said, it leads to the perception of a cover-up. Well, it is more than a perception of a cover-up—it is a cover-up. This information has been deliberately suppressed by this minister. It leaves us without the information and simply speculating. Who is being protected here? Who is it that has acted inappropriately and will not be called to account for their behaviour? Is it someone in the minister’s office? Is it someone in the department? We do not know. We can only speculate, and it heightens our suspicion about the seriousness of these allegations.
Remember, the minister claimed there was no problems at the start, and that was clearly shown to be false, to the extent that she was forced to have a review, because it became apparent that her initial denials and her initial attempts to isolate those who were complaining were wrong. The denials were wrong; there were problems. There were issues around bullying and a toxic culture.
It is difficult to take the word of this minister, given that was her response. Her response was, “Nothing to see here.” Clearly, there was. Clearly there is, to the extent that even this minister was forced into a review. It will be very difficult now to take the word of the minister when she says, “We’re not trying to cover anything up. We’re not trying to hide anything”. She has gone and covered it up. She was not honest at the start. She claimed it was just doctor politics; she claimed there were no problems when there were. Then she set about putting in place a procedure that would deliberately suppress this information.