Page 4480 - Week 14 - Wednesday, 23 November 2005
Also and most regrettably, no action was taken by senior line management or by Human Resources to quickly investigate the incident and resolve the matter.
An individual who is not named—
… said there was not a culture of immediate investigation. The possibility of the parties getting together in discussion was not pursued because management did not agree that the ANF should be present at any such meeting. I was advised by—
another blanked-out name—
… that HR did not do anything because they did not receive a formal complaint. It appears that neither senior line management nor Human Resources considered the incident serious enough to instigate an investigation on their own behalf.
Here is the important line:
As a result, the feelings aroused were allowed to fester … and impact negatively on relationships thenceforth.
That is the problem: people were aware but nothing happened. Nothing happened until the public interest disclosure was made and there was a Canberra Times article, then discussions in this place. The question is: why do you have to get to the need for a group who feel disaffected, marginalised or sidelined to take up a public interest disclosure before we get the government taking responsibility for the services that they provide? I think that is the whole point: how do we get a service where there is no need for public interest disclosures? That is what we should be aiming at and I think that is what Dr Foskey is aiming at in her motion here today. I think that is the point that the minister misses.
The minister said the government will support, this with provisos—qualified conditional support—that there be not necessarily additional funding. Obviously from the public interest disclosure and some of the issues raised in the reports, there needs to be additional funding. If we are not going to adequately fund the change, there will not be a change; it is as simple as that. If the people, the public servants who work in the alcohol and drug services, are not allowed to do their jobs properly, the culture will not change either. For instance, there are serious concerns about counselling services and the need to promote health promotion strategies. If we are only going to deal with people when they get to the acute stage of their illness—we are seeing this with this minister in mental health and we see this with this minister in alcohol and drug services—if we are not going to intervene early and fund it, it is not going to change. It does require funding, minister; you cannot walk away from that. He says, “We sort of agree with the recommendation, but then we put in this clause to say that we don’t want Dr Foskey or others coming back into this place to say that I haven’t kept my word. So I am telling you that I agree, but it might not change because there might not be any money for it.”
In terms of ongoing scrutiny, the minister says there is adequate scrutiny and he will table a report every 12 months. This is going to be the minister for long report times. Health waiting list numbers used to be monthly, then they were quarterly; now they are biannually. We are going to get a report on this very important service once a year, but of