Tasmanian Times

The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. If you try it, you will be lonely often, and sometimes frightened. No price is too high for the privilege of owning yourself. ~ Friedrich Nietzsche

The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. If you try it, you will be lonely often, and sometimes frightened. No price is too high for the privilege of owning yourself. ~ Friedrich Nietzsche


RHH chief’s luxury living

Jane Holden: Advocate picture*

THE State Government has come under fire for paying for the Royal Hobart Hospital’s acting chief executive to stay in luxury Hobart hotels, instead of using cheaper long-term accommodation provided for visiting medical staff.

Jane Holden spends up to four nights a week in Hobart.

Her family lives on the North-West Coast, where she was based as chief executive of the North West Area Health Service before accepting the acting role in Hobart. She has been in the role since September 2010.

The Department of Health and Human Services has refused to reveal how often she stays in hotels, or the cost of this accommodation, which is estimated to be more than $900 a week.

Shadow Health Minister Jeremy Rockliff slammed the accommodation deal provided to Ms Holden.

“We have received complaints about the acting CEO of the RHH staying in luxury hotel accommodation in Hobart when she could be staying in accommodation leased by DHHS for locums,” he said.

“For [Health Minister Michelle] O’Byrne’s department to refuse to provide any indication of costs associated with Ms Holden’s accommodation only further fuels speculation that they have got something to hide.

“It also goes to show how warped Ms O’Byrne’s priorities are that this sort of wastage could be allowed to occur while hospital beds are closed and elective surgery cancelled.”

Sources questioned why the DHHS was paying for Ms Holden’s accommodation when she had agreed to take on the role knowing it was based in Hobart.

DHHS acting secretary Greg Johannes said temporary accommodation was provided to Ms Holden as part of her contract for the role.

“In line with the normal provisions of workplace contracts of this type, temporary accommodation has been provided for Ms Holden,” Mr Johannes said.

“Ms Holden was asked to take on the role of acting CEO at the Royal Hobart Hospital at short notice one of the most important roles in the state’s health system.” The Mercury was unable to contact Ms Holden for comment.

Read the fell story in Mercury HERE

Picture: The Advocate HERE

Jane Holden

Acting CEO, Southern Tasmania Area Health Service
Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Accommodation for Acting CEO of STAHS

The Acting CEO of the Southern Tasmania Area Health Service (STAHS) Jane Holden says the media reports of accommodation arrangements surrounding her role contain significant factual errors.

“I was requested by the DHHS to take on the acting role of CEO of STAHS in March 2011 while retaining overall responsibility of the North West Area Health Service.

“This required me to be available in Hobart and the North West during each working week.

“I managed these roles by staying in Hobart up to four nights per week and travelling in my own time.

“Initially the tenure was for three months, but this was extended on a number of occasions, pending the recruitment of a permanent CEO to STAHS.

“This position is currently being recruited and it is anticipated that it will be filled in the New Year.

“Given the short period of each tenure extension, the only sensible and economic solution was for short-term accommodation to be provided at government rates.

“The statement that the accommodation cost more than $50,000 is simply not true – in fact it is less than half that at $23,757.

“This equates to an average cost of $180 per night.

“I have come to Hobart at short notice at great personal cost to me and my family.

“These accommodation arrangements have been important in allowing me to contribute fully to my roles at both Area Health Services.”

The DHHS appears to have a culture of executive spendthriftery going back to the days of now Premier Lara Giddings as Health Minister:

• Nigel Burch: This all comes back to lack of business experience. Lara went to uni, got a law degree which she never used, then became a government adviser where she learned the bureaucratic system without learning anything about the real world outside. Finally she became a politician. It is simply not possible for someone with no relevant experience to be a Treasurer. If she wanted to perform surgery, would we let her? Of course not. Yet we allow her to perform surgery on the finances of our whole State, with no relevant experience, and largely just because she wants to! Of course she will mess it up. What she is doing to health is crazy. Full article HERE

• Margaretta Pos: Series of articles on extraordinary spending going back to the days of Lara’s appointment, Dave Roberts, as Health Secretary: HERE

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  1. Barnaby Drake

    December 29, 2011 at 8:59 am

    Perhaps one shoud consider that Jane is doing TWO jobs at present and there are moans about her accomodation costs. I doubt that she is drawing a double salary!

    If we were to have two people in these two jobs, I am sure the difference in cost would be much greater than a hotel room!

  2. mountain man

    December 24, 2011 at 9:12 am

    Whilst on the subject of ‘expenses’.
    What about travelling costs, meals and other incidentals related to her job.
    Are we paying for them too?

  3. pilko

    December 23, 2011 at 2:55 pm

    Give me a break Jane Holden. I take Nigel Burch’s point that you could hardly complain lest you be labelled by the govt as a troublemaker, but defending 750$ (4 nights per week) in hotel rental is fraught.
    You cant tell me that our govt with all its power, influence and resources and little extra time and effort (rather than, ‘oh bugger it, its easier just to put Jane up in the Grand Chancellor for 180$ a night’) could not rent a decent self contained unit for Jane for less than $750 per week.

  4. Simon Warriner

    December 21, 2011 at 11:07 pm

    LC, thanks for the compliment, and I love the quote.

    Quite how your quote meshes with the reality of the application of his doctrine puzzles me though. My interpretation of the actions of his disciples, which he loudly applauded was that they stole the commons, privatised the commons and socialised the costs. Naomi Klien does a good job of explaining the process in “The Shock Doctrine”.

    He may have been a clear thinker who communicated plainly but in my book his thoughts are expressed in the actions of the little weasals we are governed by. They are more than capable of generating a crisis to tick off another page of his agenda of corporatise, privatise, and plunder the common wealth of all states.

  5. Leonard Colquhoun

    December 21, 2011 at 4:33 pm

    Comment 9 perceptively asks: “After lifetimes spent spending other peoples money, do they know what thrift looks like?”

    Spot on.

    Milton Friedman summed this up in plain language that even today’s spin-obsessed & mantra-addled politicians and their media flunkeys might understand – well, sorta, kinda like, a little bit:

    “When a man spends his own money to buy something for himself, he is very careful about how much he spends and how he spends it.

    “When a man spends his own money to buy something for someone else, he is still very careful about how much he spends, but somewhat less what he spends it on.

    “When a man spends someone else’s money to buy something for himself, he is very careful about what he buys, but doesn’t care at all how much he spends.

    “And when a man spends someone else’s money on someone else, he doesn’t care how much he spends or what he spends it on.

    “And that’s government for you.”

    (And if the use of ‘man’, ‘he’ and ‘himself’ upsets you, get over it – I couldn’t be bothered, nor could I see any value in, changing it to language which our new Social Inclusion Commissar would approve.)

    BTW: notice Friedman’s total lack of the moronic abstract nouns which have addled today’s language.

  6. Simon Warriner

    December 21, 2011 at 1:01 pm

    re 8, or is it that they do not know what they are looking for. After lifetimes spent spending other peoples money, do they know what thrift looks like?

    I am annoyed at the obvious wasting of money, but do not see it as Jane Holden’s fault. Who is the person responsible for Pervan’s presence on the sidelines? That is where the blame for the waste should be directed.

  7. Nigel Burch

    December 21, 2011 at 12:43 pm

    Jane Holden’s accommodation costs are not her fault, of course, as she is provided with the accommodation as part of her contract. If she were to insist on cheaper accommodation it would actually be held against her by the department – she would be seen as a troublemaker. She seems very competent and this is causing the department to use her everywhere. She will probably burn out and resign as many have before under similar circumstances.

    The issue is the poor health management by the bureaucracy and the poor supervision by the Minister that could not find the obvious cheaper options. The ways to save money are myriad if only someone was looking, and with the authority to do something about it. As I have pointed out, more experienced Ministers would help, as would employing experienced competent advisers, authorising them to talk to people in the departments, and charging them with the task of finding efficiencies. No-one is actually looking for savings at present! They just sack frontline staff as the easy option – an option that doesn’t involve the department exposing itself to scrutiny and doesn’t force the Minister to do her job and find real efficiencies.

    Examples such as the Mercury has found are everywhere and nearly everyone in the public service knows of examples. Until recently there was a plane chartered by the health department flying every week to Burnie and back with one person on board – someone who could more efficiently have been based at Burnie. It may still be flying.

    A Supreme Court judge could probably be based on the North West and save heaps rather than have them visit all the time. I notice a fuss on the mainland about empty public housing at the moment – something I have talked about before in Tas Times and raised as an issue when I worked for the government. There are too many magistrates in Hobart and allowing a reduction of just one by natural attrition would save a small fortune.

    If anyone was looking, they would find the necessary savings very quickly. They just aren’t looking.

  8. Kathryn Barnsley

    December 21, 2011 at 11:17 am

    I am so sick of hearing criticisms of public servants like Jane Holden who work ridiculously long hours, hardly ever see their family, are trying to do two jobs at once because the system is so clogged that DHHS cannot recruit new people. I have never met Jane Holden but I say good luck to her and if you have to put her up in the Grand Chancellor so she can walk to work safely and get a decent nights sleep then do so!

    These people have a very short career – how many of them last more than a couple of years in these top jobs? They probably have a short life span as well. Media and whingers leave her alone – or better still buy her a bunch of flowers and say good on you!

  9. Robin Halton

    December 20, 2011 at 11:58 pm

    Isnt this a beat up, is the media that hard up for real news. Jane Holden is the CEO for the NW Area Health Service, it is pointless to have her here filling in in Hobart away from her family now pointing the finger at her over accommodation costs while she is away from home!

    If Michelle O ‘Byrne been a decent but strong Health Minister and put the foot down early on with the Royal bureaucrats and a few words with Mr Pervan, he would and should have never have been removed from his job as CEO. There are those that may not like the man “tough”, when hard decisions have to be made and it is now up to acting CEO Jane Holden to carry out the job!

    From what I can understand two new positions were created for former CEO Craig White and the displaced CEO Michael Pervan with similar salaries and benefits at an approx cost of $450,000-$500,00pa for both. I think both were recent appointments, not advertised! The way I see it there is clearly a contradiction here of the efforts that have been imposed on the Royal to make significant operational cost savings!

    The real issue here is for Jane Holden to return her rightful position on the NW Coast reappoint Mr Pervan as CEO. The Tasmanian Government cannot continue allow further slip ups and personell conflicts to continue to run the Health System while costs are spiralling out of control on a daily basis for a Labor minority government that is in deep trouble for not using a firmer hand to monitor for and quickly resolve internal disputes occurring within the Health Department.

  10. john lawrence

    December 20, 2011 at 10:33 pm

    BigEars (#3) I couldn’t agree more. When Jeremy bunks down on the floor of the YHA in Clarendon Vale we might take his concerns a little more seriously.

    Even so Ms Holden is perfectly entitled to be accommodated according to State Service guidelines. And not have to be grilled by TV reporters.

    Hopefully the New Year might see Jeremy’s dog whistling replaced by a few workable policies.

  11. Trevor Burdon

    December 20, 2011 at 8:46 pm

    Jane Holden is responsible for the biggest line item in the state budget. She is clearly courageous to take this acting role on given its recent history, and all the carping in the local media. The arrangements are not ideal but they are line-ball with market rates and they are temporary.

    Shared accommodation sounds politically risky and potentially very uncomfortable Ms Holden. The sooner the position can be permanently filled the better. Mind you the rabid Mercury comment thread has probably discouraged a few potential candidates already.

  12. BigEars

    December 20, 2011 at 4:45 pm

    They say that a reliable sign of true leadership is the capacity to cut right through to the really important issues. Jeremy Rockliff has demonstrated, yet again, that he will always be deputy-dawg, not top-dawg. First he carps about the Alcohol and Drug Service Clinical Director attending an overseas conference. Now he tries to play ‘gotcha’ with Jane Holden over a remarkably small amount of money for not-that-flash hotel accommodation. Just when we hoped that the Libs had grown out of their traditional public-servant-bashing ways, Jeremy reminds us that some things never change.

    If our government reckons Jane Holden is the best person to hold the fort in the southern area health service, they should make it as easy as possible for her to do so while retaining her home/family relations on the NW Coast. It is money well spent for someone who works so much harder and more effectively than Jeremy. Besides, what’s the all-up cost of Jeremy’s accommodation in Hobart when he leaves his own NW Coast home? Does he ring around the government agencies to track down empty beds that will save the taxpayer a dollar or two?

    Rockliff has offered not one substantial idea about containing Tassie’s health costs. Not one. Try very hard, I dare you, to imagine him as Minister. See, knew you couldn’t do it!

  13. Margaret S-M and Leonard C

    December 20, 2011 at 3:19 pm

    Nigel Burch’s “This all comes back to lack of business experience. Lara went to uni, got a law degree which she never used, then became a government adviser where she learned the bureaucratic system without learning anything about the real world outside. Finally she became a politician. It is simply not possible for someone with no relevant experience to be a Treasurer. If she wanted to perform surgery, would we let her?” has both pin-pointed why MPs like MLA Giddings are failures and why their basic role is at heart hopelessly misunderstood.

    Today’s MPs, more so ALP and (it seems) Green ones, have had such an absence of real-life experience living with and working with ‘real’ people, that they are just about as UNREPRESENTATIVE of us as they can be – were someone to have been given a brief to design the worst kind of MPs for our sort of parliamentary democracy, this is what they’d likely to have drawn up.

    (The US Founding Fathers prudently enacted this qualification for being eligible to be president: “No person [shall] be eligible to that office who shall not have attained to the age of thirty-five years, and been fourteen years a resident within the United States”, even if they will be accused today of something stupid like ‘ageism’.)

    It is the UNINTENDED CONSEQUENCE of pay-for-politicians: becoming a pro pollie is now a nice little earner. Bit like becoming, at an absurdly young age, a pro footballer, athlete or popstar, and then having the responsibility for decisions about healthcare, foreign military campaigns or national infrastructure.

    But the point about “If she wanted to perform surgery, would we let her?” is not quite so apposite – we don’t elect MPs for their professional skills, and political parties do not have to make sure that there is a butcher, a baker, a candlestick-maker among their candidates.

    These professional skills are supposed to be in the permanent public service, and elected MPs in a government are supposed to have enough life experience, nous and common^ sense to make decicions which are generally sensible according to professional advice from the bureaucracy.

    ^ the ‘common’ in ‘common sense’, ‘commoners’ and ‘House of Commons comes from Old French for ‘community/ies’, meaning the general populace. It is not a snobbish putdown.

  14. johnd

    December 20, 2011 at 2:39 pm

    Standard public service accommodation allowance is $125/night. Anything over this has to be made up by the employee.

    Editor’s note: comment edited to comply with the TT code. Please see sections on tone and ‘some legal red flags http://oldtt.pixelkey.biz/index.php/pages/legalbits

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