Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2010 Week 02 Hansard (Wednesday, 24 February 2010) . . Page.. 636 ..
Canberra Hospital that arise, problems in other departments, are they the broader issues that will need to be addressed? That is unclear, and that is why, in part, we will not be supporting the amendment. If it does get up then I would ask that the inquiry that is conducted under the minister’s terms of reference be done so that it is able to look at broader systemic issues across the Canberra Hospital and not just be limited to obstetrics in the ACT. If a culture of bullying and harassment and intimidation and failure in the complaints procedure can occur in one department then, without question, it can occur in others.
The opposition will not be supporting the amendment. As much as I understand it, I think the Greens will be, and that is disappointing, because I think the proper way forward is an inquiry under the Inquiries Act. That would give the confidence to the community that the minister has alluded to and also to the doctors in question. I would counsel the minister then to make sure that, as quickly as possible, we can see the terms of reference. I would like, as I am sure Ms Bresnan would, to be involved in or consulted on the formulation of those.
MR SESELJA (Molonglo—Leader of the Opposition) (4.21): I thank Mr Hanson for bringing this forward. I think that there is no doubt that there was a lot lacking in the initial response from the minister on this issue when it was first raised recently. We had, unfortunately I think, the knee-jerk reaction, which is to criticise the complainants and to say that there is nothing to see here. That, unfortunately, has been a bit of a consistent pattern from this government. They hide behind the public service. If you criticise what is going on, you must be attacking the public servants or you must be attacking this person. We will get to some of those problems that have been aired, some of those allegations that have been raised and some of those concerns that have been drawn to the attention of the media, some of those concerns that have been drawn to the attention of the opposition and, no doubt, some of those concerns that have been drawn to the attention of the government.
It must be said that Katy Gallagher today said that there has been a 10-year war going on. She acknowledged that there have been deep-seated problems for many years yet seemed surprised when these allegations first started airing. It is a bit rich to pretend that there is nothing wrong and that any claims of a toxic culture must be wrong when the minister today in question time said that this has been going on for 10 years, that there have been problems for 10 years, there has been a war going on for 10 years. We can only imagine what kind of cultural problems that leads to when we have, according to the minister, different warring parties in our health system. If we have different warring parties and the minister has been aware of these and has been aware that the war has been going on for 10 years, it is exceptionally rich to be claiming some sort of surprise that these allegations have been raised.
It is worth going through some of what has been said. I think Dr Foote actually picked up on the minister’s initial response. We are seeing Katy Gallagher back away somewhat from this to at least move to some form of external review. We believe that should be comprehensive; we believe that that should be under the Inquiries Act; we believe that it should have the full powers that go with that to get to the bottom of this. If you are talking about longstanding problems or feuds or wars, to use the words of the minister, then getting to the bottom of that is critically important going forward. It