Page 3110 - Week 08 - Wednesday, 22 August 2012

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There have been claims by Labor, and by a clamouring chorus of Greens all too willing to hold up this government instead of holding it to account, that this whole thing is just about data. About statistics. About numbers. No, it is not. It is about people, and it is about the pain this government has caused those people. It is also about those people’s experiences being invalidated by deception.

Many of those stories have been coming out in the media, and some of those who have suffered are with us here today in the gallery. They are what this motion is about. They are why we are taking the steps we have. And they are the reason we will never let this appalling abrogation of responsibility be dismissed. I think it is important that we, in our positions of trust and responsibility, remember that it is they who are our real judge and the real reason we are here today.

Since this scandal has started, more and more people are coming forward with their own stories. Just last week, in response to this scandal, Maurizio Salza had the bravery to step forward and tell the story of his wife, with her one-week-old son, waiting over 10 hours suffering mastitis without being seen. Maurizio said that, while he understood there were other people deserving of being seen, “The coldness and lack of any care or respect in that period was just absolutely horrible.” That is the real face of pain that these failures create. That is what we are fighting for today.

I was contacted by a nurse, who refused to be named or to go public for fear of reprisal, who told of the systemic issues in the ED, of bullying so bad and cronyism so rife she was forced to leave the sector to work in a private practice. She tells me she stills feels genuine fear when certain members of ACT Health management visit her new workplace. The fear she felt was very evident when I was talking to her, and I am sure there are many more like her who know how corrupted the system has become but are simply too fearful to speak out.

Just this week we have been contacted by nurse Kate Virtue, who shared her story about how she was treated after being electrocuted while doing her job.

And in today’s newspaper we have heard the terrible story of Lima Thatcher, whose granddaughters Holly and Kate are with us today. They have fought hard after they lost a loved one in circumstances that just should not have been allowed to happen. Through their diligence, an internal memo was discovered issued by the executive director of the quality and safety unit at Canberra Hospital. In it, it was revealed that only 52 per cent of pre-surgery safety checklists were completed for patients in our hospitals. These are vital, basic checks to see that surgeons have the right patient and will be performing the right procedure, and will be taking the right precautions. Half of all patients in Canberra go to surgery without that being completed. That is an appalling result.

These are just some of the stories which have emerged since we announced this no-confidence motion. How many other stories remain untold?

What is more appalling is that we are only finding out about this today, and we are not finding out about it from the minister, despite a senior manager in her department

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