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

Economy

Health: Integrity Commission’s damning indictment

*ABC pic of Jane Holden and Gavin Austin, from ABC news report: Inquiry finds nepotism by senior Tasmanian health bureaucrats Jane Holden, Gavin Austin, HERE

Madam Speaker,

In accordance with the Integrity Commission Act 2009, a report has been tabled in Parliament today.

The report relates to the finalised investigation into allegations of misconduct by senior public servants and is an extremely serious report into both leadership at the highest levels of the Tasmanian public health system, and the culture engendered by those leaders.

Given this, I considered it appropriate that I inform the House at this earliest opportunity of the actions taken by the Government in response to this report.

Confidentiality requirements

Madam Speaker,

First, I believe it is necessary to explain why the Government, despite wishing to, has been prevented from publicly clarifying or commenting on increasing speculation about such matters in the media.

While the Premier received a draft copy of the Integrity Commission report last month, under Section 98 of the Integrity Commission Act, as a matter of law, neither the Government nor any other party is permitted to disclose either the fact that a report has been received, nor reveal any part of the content of any such report.

It is also important to note that until such time as the investigation had concluded, resulting in a final report, it was not appropriate for the Government to act upon any of the draft findings.

Late on the afternoon of Friday, May 23, the Integrity Commission provided a final Report and lifted its confidentiality requirements in relation to confirming the existence of a report. So while it is regrettable that the Government’s lawful obligation to maintain confidentiality fuelled claims of uncertainty and destabilisation for health services, the fact is that our hands have been tied.

Major findings of Integrity Commission report:

Madam Speaker,

The Integrity Commission report makes a number of allegations of misconduct related to procurement and recruitment practices of two senior officers of the Tasmanian public health system.

Those officers are Ms Jane Holden and Mr Gavin Austin who, at the time the investigation was conducted, were the acting CEO of the THO-South and the CEO of THO-North-West, respectively.

The allegations relate to the period 2009 to 2013.

The investigations of the Integrity Commission have identified conduct by both officers in relation to the procurement of services from, and the employment of, direct family members and others with whom they had shared a professional and/or financial association in New Zealand.

The report notes that “in every instance identified in the report, a family member or associate of the officers was a beneficiary of the non-compliant conduct”.

The financial cost of the non-compliance identified during the investigation is estimated to exceed $500,000, not including the salaries paid to family members of Ms Holden and Mr Austin.

The report found “failure in governance is evident across the board in all the matters examined in this report”.

It is in the Integrity Commission’s view that family and associates of Ms Holden and Mr Austin were awarded consultancies, employment and contracts to their benefit, without the required proper processes and often without demonstrated benefit to the health system.

These are detailed in the report and allege that:

– Ms Holden offered a consultancy to her previous associate, Mr Austin, who was then residing in New Zealand. The eight days’ work for Mr Austin included airfares and amounted to $8,494. There was no documentation and no tangible product of the consultancy. A month later Mr Austin was the successful applicant for an SES position where the selection panel was chaired by Ms Holden. No conflict of interest was declared. Mr Austin was offered “very generous terms and conditions” including an accommodation allowance for 12 months at $285 per week. This allowance was extended ‘until further notice’ a year later with no authority located for either the initial approval or extension.

– In early 2010, Ms Holden’s husband was engaged by the North-West Area Health Service as a contractor to perform building, carpentry and maintenance work on various sites. Over the period August 2010 to July 2012, Ms Holden’s husband was paid a total of $197,681 for this work, with Mr Austin approving the majority of invoices. Ms Holden’s husband did not have the appropriate accreditation to perform much of this work. To remedy this, Mr Austin approved payment of over $6,000 for Ms Holden’s husband to return to New Zealand to obtain accreditation as a builder and also to become accredited in Tasmania. Mr Austin also approved the payment of Ms Holden’s husband’s public indemnity insurance and approved the payment of $100 per night accommodation on King Island. This represented a total of $9,100, even though accommodation was provided free of charge at the nurses’ quarters.

– Ms Holden’s husband removed significant quantities of asbestos on King Island, despite the fact he was not licensed to do so.

– In March 2012, Ms Holden’s husband was appointed to a full-time position as a tradesperson at the THO North-West, with Mr Austin twice attempting to have his salary upgraded. In 2013, Ms Holden created a new permanent full-time position for a tradesperson at the THO South, and Ms Holden’s husband was given the opportunity to review the interview questions and model answers in advance of his interview. He was subsequently offered the position.

– In 2010, Mr Austin’s wife secured a series of jobs with the North-West Area Health Service, with salary ‘uplift’. Ms Holden signed off on the recruitment of Mr Austin’s wife. Mr Austin’s wife was subsequently recruited to two further fixed term positions without advertisement. A new position as created in December 2012 working 9.5 hours per fortnight. It was the Commission’s view this was created by Mr Austin to suit his wife’s then circumstances.

– In 2011, Mr Austin’s son was engaged through Skilled Group to undertake maintenance work for the North West Area Health Service. From August 2011 to October 2012, Skilled Group was paid a total of $105,135 for the unskilled labouring services provided by Mr Austin’s son. Mr Austin signed most invoices himself. In March 2012, a job of maintenance support officer was approved by Mr Austin for his son, with a starting salary at the top of the salary band, plus the inclusion of a 20% casual loading.

– In early March 2011, Mr Austin’s colleague and friend travelled from New Zealand for a “recce” trip for which the hospital reimbursed the cost of airfares of $871.20. This expense was approved by Mr Austin. This person was subsequently found to be the preferred candidate for the position of Human Resources Director, even though that person subsequently declined the position.

– In August 2012, Mr Austin engaged a former associate from New Zealand in a consultancy. Two reports were produced, one six pages and another four pages, at a cost of $4,000. Accommodation, petrol, mobile phone, parking in New Zealand, and return flights to Tasmania were also reimbursed. No consultancy documentation was located. The same person was then appointed to the position of Finance Director. This offer included relocation expenses and fully self-contained accommodation for up to 12 months, with the first three months rental free of charge. There was no record of any interviews being conducted.

– In August 2012, Mr Austin paid for a clinician’s travel to New Zealand to meet with associate consultants. The total cost for consultant services between October 2012 and November 2013 totalled over $48,000 and $52,000 when the clinician’s travel was included. There was no evidence of approval by the Department of Health and Human Services.

– In August 2012, Mr Austin employed another New Zealand associate as an occupational physician. This person received an allowance in lieu of call-back and overtime and was reimbursed for travel to and from New Zealand. He was paid $42,313.08 for 134 hours work. The position was not advertised and no recruitment process was undertaken.

– In September 2012, Mr Austin engaged a friend who was director of a New Zealand-based consultancy group on a consultancy that did not comply with procurement and exceeded the $10,000 threshold.

– In July 2013, Mr Austin engaged an associate from New Zealand for a consultancy who was paid $9,555 including airfares and accommodation and car hire. There was no pre-consultancy documentation.

– In October 2013, Mr Austin approached a former associate regarding a vacant position in the North-West. A job offer was made to that person, including generous conditions not permitted under the State Service framework. The position was advertised only after the offer had already been made to the individual. The position was advertised at a base salary rate with no mention of the additional benefits already offered to Mr Austin’s associate.

Madam Speaker,

Sadly, this is only a snapshot of the serious matters revealed in the Integrity Commission’s report.

Appallingly, the report reveals allegations of nepotism, undeclared conflicts of interest with no attempt at management, numerous breaches of process, and failure to comply with procurement and employment policies and procedures, including relevant Treasurer’s Instructions, Employment directions, Ministerial Directions and the requirements of legislation, including the State Service Act.

Jane Holden

Madam Speaker,

Ms Jane Holden was appointed as CEO of the North-West Area Health Service in November 2007.

She subsequently became Acting CEO of the Southern Tasmania Area Health Service in March 2011. In November 2011, legislation passed both Houses of Parliament to establish the Tasmanian Health Organisations, and abolish the Area Health Services. It was implicit in the enabling legislation that each THO Governing Council was expected to take on responsibility for selecting its own chief executive or the say on whether it wanted to keep the existing chief executive from the abolished area health services.

However, in March 2012, the former Health Minister appointed Ms Holden as the CEO of the Southern Area Health Service on a five year contract.

Just over three months later, the THOs came into effect, effectively abolishing the former Area Health Services.

In August 2012, the Governing Council, in line with the provisions of the Tasmanian Health Organisation Act 2011, made recommendation to the then Minister for Health and former Premier that Ms Holden be appointed to the position of CEO.

It is notable that the former Minister for Health and former Premier did not act on that recommendation for 19 months, from the time it was made to the time of their defeat in the March 2014 election.

Madam Speaker,

Since the appointment of the new Government in March this year, the leadership of the THO-South has repeatedly been called into question on two major fronts, first in relation to the Royal Hobart Hospital redevelopment and secondly in relation to the financial management of the hospital.

On 28 April this year, the Chair of the THO-South Governing Council wrote to myself, the Treasurer and the Premier, to advise that the Governing Council had met to consider the Integrity Commission’s draft report, and that “taking into account other performance-related issues” it unanimously resolved to rescind the recommendation to the Premier – never acted upon by the previous Premier – that Jane Holden should be substantially appointed as CEO.

The Governing Council was specific in its advice that this decision was not based on the findings of the draft Integrity Commission report, but that it was informed by concerns related to a number of issues – among them financial and clinical performance, cultural issues and leadership.

It is important to note, however, that the Governing Council did not at this time request that Ms Holden be actively removed from her position as Acting CEO. Ms Holden was given the opportunity by the Governing Council to “show cause” as to how she intended to rebuild the confidence of the Governing Council.

Ms Holden’s response did not satisfy the Governing Council and subsequently, on 23 May at around 4pm the Premier did receive a letter from the Governing Council recommending that Ms Holden’s appointment as Acting CEO of the THO-South be terminated.

The Government acted immediately on both recommendations – within the hour – and advised Ms Holden that the Government had accepted the advice of the Governing Council and that her role as Acting CEO would cease.

The Government also accepted the Governing Council’s recommendation that Mr Matthew Daly be appointed to the position of acting CEO. At this point I wish especially acknowledge the cooperation and assistance of Mr Daly for agreeing to act in this challenging role.

Mr Michael Pervan was appointed Acting Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services.

In respect of Ms Holden’s substantive position as CEO of the Southern Tasmania Area Health Service, as I have explained publicly, it was the decision of the previous Government to appoint Ms Holden to a five year contract for a position as Chief Executive Officer of an organisation that was to be abolished three months later. This was not simply an entirely procedural matter.

This contract was called into question at the time by the then Liberal Opposition, and the actions of the former Government again come into play today, given Ms Holden now holds a substantive position in an organisation which is no longer required, with no duties attached to that position, for a further three years remaining on her contract.

In view of that, the Government will now work through the proper process in accordance with the State Service Act requirements.

Gavin Austin

Madam Speaker,

Mr Austin became Acting CEO of the North West Area Health Service in March 2011, and was appointed as CEO of THO North-West in November 2012.

On 8 May, the Chair of the Governing Council of THO North-West wrote to me advising it had unanimously resolved that, if the findings in the final report of the Integrity Commission and its recommendations were not substantially different from those in the draft report, the Governing Council would withdraw its support for the appointment of Gavin Austin as its CEO and his continued employment by THO North-West.

Mr Austin was alerted to this on 21 May.

As a matter of procedural fairness, he was given the opportunity to provide a response by 23 May. No response was received by the Governing Council.

Yesterday, the Governing Council of the THO-North-West wrote to the Premier advising the Premier suspend Gavin Austin from his appointment as CEO of the THO North-West and initiate an inquiry into possible breaches of the State Service Code of Conduct.

The Governing Council also recommended that Ms Karen Linegar be appointed Acting CEO.

After taking appropriate advice, late yesterday the Premier wrote to Mr Austin advising him he had 24 hours – that is, by close of business today – to show cause why he should not be suspended immediately from his position pending a Code of Conduct investigation.

GOVERNMENT RESPONSE TO REPORT

Madam Speaker,

This is the most serious report tabled in this Parliament for some time.

And I know Tasmanians will be appalled by the content of the Integrity Commission’s report, because once again we see wasteful practices in health, and patient care taking a back seat to allegations of nepotism and special deals for special mates.

We should not forget all of this took place in an environment where patients were being told they had to wait for treatment because there was no money for frontline health services.

And as the Integrity Commission’s report states, notwithstanding the financial cost of the allegations of nepotism misconduct, the unquantifiable costs include the effect of the ethical culture of the agencies, and the lost opportunities for jobs for Tasmanians.

What must not be forgotten here is that, while it is every individual Tasmanian public servant’s obligation to uphold the principles of the State Service Act, the individuals I have referred to today have held Head of Agency roles and were key leaders of our health system.

These officers were charged with upholding the standards for those under their management, who set the leadership and cultural direction of their agencies.

Madam Speaker,

I am concerned that the Integrity Commission report follows closely on the heels of another independent report into systemic and cultural problems in the Tasmanian health system.

The Integrity Commission observes that the culture in health has become one of “spin and cover up”.

The Commission’s observations are not inconsistent with those made about the governance and culture in the health system generally by the independent Commission on the Delivery of Health Services in Tasmania, released by Federal Health Minister and myself earlier this last month.

That report, commissioned by the former Federal and State Labor Governments, also found a culture of poor leadership and bad behaviour in the health system that could be only overcome by determined leadership, better clinical and community engagement, and higher standards of governance and accountability.

Like the Integrity Commission report, the Bansemer Report contained several recommendations for effecting cultural change, including a recommendation that senior officials, in fulfilling their roles, be required to conform to the highest degrees of professionalism, honesty and integrity, and act in a manner consistent with the Code of Conduct under Section 9 of the State Service Act.

Both reports point more generally to the need for whole-of-system leadership, improved accountability and consistency, and a review of the structural and governance arrangements for the Tasmanian Health Organisations.

Madam Speaker,

These reports are reports that describe yesterday’s health system.

It is up to all of us – the experience and committed people working in our hospital and community settings, the patients, clients and consumers in the Tasmanian community – to decide what the health system of tomorrow will look like.

We need a health system that is safe, efficient, effective and sustainable, and is structured and governed to meet the needs of the patients, not the needs of individual employees.

I am not prepared to accept that we keep doing what we’ve always done, and keep getting what we’ve always got.

As the new Minister, I have come to believe that our health system in many ways has lost sight of the reason it exists – to treat patients and meet the needs of the community, to do it well and to do it on time.

The health system cannot sustain the wasteful neglect and damaging abuse that the Integrity Commission report reveals.

It not only limits our capacity to use available resources for the greatest good for the greatest number, but it is also inherently disrespectful to those hard working dedicated staff across the system who are giving their all to provide for their patients.

It is clear we need fundamental change to deliver better outcomes for Tasmanians from their health system.

We need a health system that is in fact, healthy.

We need to rebuild our health system from the ground up – we can’t just keep sweeping around the edges or making piecemeal policy changes at the margins.

While the Integrity Commission report details incidents that occurred under the watch or the blind eye of the previous government, as Health Minister I am responsible for improving the governance, leadership and accountability of the system as a whole.

And I take that responsibility seriously.

The Government will be responding in detail to the Integrity Commission’s recommendations, together with the recommendations of the Bansemer report, in due course.

I can say emphatically we are up to the challenge, and all options will be on the table to build a more efficient system with improved patient outcomes for the future.

If we are to move to a sustainable health system that will meet community need, that embraces innovative care delivery and builds and enhances a strong culture of professionalism, we need to be prepared to challenge the status quo.

The Liberal Government invites all those with an interest in the health system in this State to work with us on the scope and scale of reform needed to turn our health system into a safe, efficient, effective, sustainable and reliable health system – a health system that all Tasmanians can rightly be proud of.

TT Media HERE, where you’ll find heaps of opinions, including Kim Booth: $2.1 Billion Reasons Why Treasury Federal Budget Analysis Must be Released

Cassy O’Connor: Ferguson Silent on GP co-payment Impact

Bryan Green: Liberals split on approach to environment groups

• Nigel Crisp, in Comments: Truly inspiring stuff isn’t it; Labor health Minister Michelle O’Byrne fast asleep at the wheel by the look of it, but then again, business as usual in Tasmania. Wonder how much we’d save with an ICAC down here with sweeping powers?

And, it’s not the first time apparent waste in Tasmanian Health has been observed. … including the extraordinary and costly apparent persecution of now-acting DHHS Secretary Michael Pervan … the litany of astonishing waste chronicled by TT’s Margaretta Pos, HERE

Michael Ferguson: Jane Holden and Gavin Austin

Ros Lehman, ABC: Health boss Jane Holden ‘shocked’ by misconduct findings in Integrity Commission report She says the report does not include all of the evidence. “The issue here is that the report does not include all of the evidence and I have every intention that the public sees all of the evidence and this issue is discussed in an open and transparent way,” she said. Ms Holden defended the hiring of her husband but denied she created a job for him in the state’s south. “I did not create the job for my husband and I did not in anyway ensure that he got it, and there is evidence to support that I did not,” she said. “I felt that everything was proper, as it should be, and appropriate. I did not breach the code of conduct.” She denied he was employed inappropriately on King Island.

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30 Comments

30 Comments

  1. bazzabee

    June 2, 2014 at 9:21 pm

    #21/22 Your correspondent (22) suggests that I failed in my posting (21) when he says of me that “He has most certainly failed to address why they fail and keep failing”.

    Frankly that I should live so long as to attempt such a analysis lucky for me nobody lives that long. And it may have escaped Mr W’s notice this is a web site and I’m not allowed to post a PhD dissertation even if I had written one which I haven’t or have the inclination to which at my time of life and on this subject I don’t.

    Anyway our Dear Ed has a word limit and luckily for me it is kicks in just about the same time as my fuck it who gives a shit really gene.

  2. Simon Warriner

    May 30, 2014 at 2:20 pm

    Thanks for noticing and for the the heads up Shaun.

    There is a crack in everything, that’s how the light gets in. Leonard Cohen.

  3. John Biggs

    May 30, 2014 at 1:48 pm

    The IC has at last shown it is capable of cleaning up some of Tasmania’s mess. And bully for the Libs in taking action on the recommendations. But now the Liberals are crippling the IC. As Diane Merryfull made clear on Tas 7.30, the cuts proposed by Hodgman will make similar investigations into further corruption charges all but impossible. Now Will has dealt with Labor’s mess, is he now making bloody sure that Liberal messes will go undetected and they can go rorting merrily along?

  4. John Biggs

    May 30, 2014 at 1:21 pm

    #26 We wait with baited breath.

  5. Shaun

    May 30, 2014 at 2:36 am

    #6 ““This systemic practice of bullying of hard working public servants is coming right from the top and needs to be stamped out,” Mr Hodgman said”

    The level of outright destruction that has occurred in another government department over the past 18 months or so is way beyond anything that could be considered acceptable. There’s an outright bully running the show and the change from functional to disfunctional is dramatic.

    In due course the public will work out which department it is as things start to fall apart, staff take legal action for stress and so on. Things like that don’t stay quite forever.

    No further comment on the details will be made at this time.

  6. TGC

    May 30, 2014 at 1:38 am

    There’s a possibility Tasmania may need to establish an Integrity Commission to examine the role of the Integrity Commiission.
    Front of the Weeties packet again!

  7. TV Resident

    May 29, 2014 at 4:32 pm

    If the so called “Integrity Commission” decided to follow up on a lot more people within politics they would find ‘nepotism, cronyism, corruption and bullying all within the political ranks. I have noticed over the years, the same names, but different members, crop up as ministers and MPs and when their pollie life is over they turn up as high flyers on various boards. Their hefty pensions obviously not enough but they are allowed to earn hundreds of thousands of $$$$s over and above. We, the elderly, are punished if we earn more than about $70 a week.

  8. Geraldine Allan

    May 28, 2014 at 11:41 pm

    #22. Oh Simon, if only.

    Honesty, transparency and accountability are glaringly missing in so many bureaucratic errors of judgment, mischief and wrongdoing.

    If only — citizens could be educated about the value of electing independent and honorable political representatives.

    If only — there was an abundance of elected representatives with the courage and calibre of Andrew Wilkie.

    If only — we the citizens had the collective mind to gather and implement wise people power.

    If only.

  9. Simon Warriner

    May 28, 2014 at 8:52 pm

    re 21, Bazzabee raises some interesting points for discussion, but his analysis fails to get to the root of the problem.

    He identifies the machinations of the doctors union, the petty parochialism and its opportunistic utilisation by grandstanding editors of local rags as notable, along with many minor issues.

    What he fails to identify is the failure of those we have elected to govern us, past and possibly present, to see past these these promotions of short sighted, narrow self interests and to vigorously pursue the greater common good. He has most certainly failed to address why they fail and keep failing.

    If we are to truly fix this mess, and the many other messes which prevent this island from fulfilling its potential we need to elect a leadership who are not engaged in a continual tribal competition for power, but who are there only to represent their constituents and to pursue for them the greatest common good using as wide a range of skills and experience as possible.

    When thought and intellect is applied to this issue, it becomes ever more obvious that individuals capable of this mode of operation will never be found in a political party which demands as a price of entry the loyalty which is most properly owed to the electorate in total, not one, often minority, part of it.

    All problems are management problems, and the buck stops at the parliament and the individuals who comprise it, past present and future.

  10. bazzabee

    May 28, 2014 at 2:07 pm

    That the Tasmanian Dept. of Health is a simmering mess of petty questionable behaviour should not come as any surprise to anyone who has worked in the health system at any time over the past forty years or more at a pay grade higher than that of ministerial door opener.

    But no report into the Department or the states hospitals will ever show us the depth of the problems if all it does is shine a light on a few dubious individuals.

    The problems in our health system are systemic not personal. In so many ways the problems that dog our health system are the ones that have dogged our State for most of the 20th century. It is the bigger picture that needs to be looked at if we as a state are ever going to fix the real problems.

    There can be no greater problem than the deeply entrenched parochialism that has been nurtured and grown by our politicians, newspapers and greedy local governments add to this the great North South divide and you begin to see the playing field on which these games have been played. One of the favoured pieces on the political chessboard is health simply because it is so necessary and at the same time so emotive it makes it all too often the political chess piece of choice by politicians of all colours and persuasions.

    The three newspapers only too willing to offer political support to candidates who promised bigger, brighter and better barrels of pork at election time regardless of need, cost and practicality. Costly hospital and medical services have been unnecessarily duplicated often triplicated supported by politicians and both major political parties.

    When it came to stirring the health pot for their own benefit no group was better at this than the medical profession. How well we remember the Premier’s own farther frequently adding political logs to fuel to the fires of self-interest started by doctors groups who never failed to claim that anything they said and did was on behalf of their patients while quietly forgetting to mention the gains that would so frequently flow to themselves and their profession.

    Petty secular and political corruption and interference in hospital management was not solely the province of the greedy, politicians. It was seen clearly on the appointments made to the boards of the major hospital boards of management people with no management skills, experience or knowledge of medicine, finance etc. were appointed because they were all too often local party hacks who enjoyed the prestige that came with the appointment.

    Turning to the report released yesterday let us hope it is the beginning of a new era in health and not the end of a process. One thing I can be certain of is that the public punishment of a couple of ‘outsider’s won’t change the system it is too old and far to stable for a small earthquake to have anything other than a minor effect.

    From my limited reading of the report so far it seems that the ALP appointments adapted well to the system they found but that their alleged exploitation was amateurish, they got caught. But it will need the new government and minister to dig far deeper if he is to make the changes that are really required to fix the health system in Tasmania.

    It will in deed be a brave minister who looks back to those days long gone and asks how did our health system became to be so rotten at so many levels? But this will be only the first of many things he will need to do if he is to heal the problems. If the underlying problems are to be addressed the minister will need to take on the biggest and best organised trade union in Australia the AMA and their mates who control the restrictive practises the Royal Colleges of Medicine, Surgery, etc.

    As to the former Minister for Health Michelle O’Byrne if she had a shred of decency but of course we know that’s never going to happen and even if she did she would no doubt pick up a nice new job with old Union after all that’s the Tasmanian way isn’t it? Yet the resignation of the former minister even from opposition would send a very strong message that the ALP is and will continue to support a clean sweep through the dank, dirty corridors of the Health Department.

    I am however pessimistic when it comes to long term change because this would require major structural change at so many levels but even before that happened it would require Tasmanians to admit that we got the system we wanted a system that for the most part provided us with too many hospitals in the wrong places providing unsustainable and arguably unnecessary levels of service driven by a highly articulate politically manipulative medical profession.

    But throwing open the departments doors to daylight is long over due and there is as most of us know no better or cheaper disinfectant than sunshine.

  11. O'brien

    May 28, 2014 at 3:27 am

    So what? Another day in Tassie, another time-clocker or snoozer punches-off & whisks away straight into chilly autumnal zephyr whirling down Davey Street. Zenith reached, an ongoing, never ending position, until retirement, duty to the people of Tassie fulfilled. Our dedicated hard working public servants deserve better than congregations of chums around the grange hermitage coolers. Quite simply this matter could be remedied following pay parity push (PLUS FORTY PERCENT NEVER FORGET) a decade ago. Should the incumbent qualify for pay-parity with other Commonwealth States, it is not unreasonable the incumbent have qualification-parity. Case in point, with the Commonwealth Government’s delisting of Science as a worthwhile national pursuit/interest, perhaps it is not unreasonable the public service require it’s members have some idea of what it is they profess to do with their days & our money/taxes. Or maybe not, perhaps it’s best not to rock the boat, under a barely civilized veneer some beneficiaries are akin to snoozing pit vipers, best left undisturbed. We must operate from fear or love, we choose love.

  12. Simon Warriner

    May 28, 2014 at 1:16 am

    Geraldine, love to, Linz will be contacted forthwith.

  13. Geraldine Allan

    May 27, 2014 at 11:18 pm

    #12 Simon, I would like to have an off-the-record discussion with you. Would you feel comfortable in contacting me? If so Linz has my email address.

  14. Geraldine Allan

    May 27, 2014 at 11:14 pm

    #13 John — and the list goes on, and on and on …

  15. Robin Charles Halton

    May 27, 2014 at 9:08 pm

    #12 Simon, Health Minister Michael Ferguson has acted swiftly by giving Southern Health CEO 48 hrs to demonstrate why she should not be sacked. Gavin Austin CEO of NW Health has been given 24 hrs why he should not have been suspended pending a PS investigation.

    Action has been swift, good to see that the IC has teeth and that the current State Government has nothing to hide, credit to Diane Merryfull and the fact that her report is there for the public to read per the Mercury Newspaper site today.

    Simon given your partner’s circumstances I hope that you both are successful with a fair and reasonable hearing with the IC. Good luck.

    I can remember a few years ago, Lin Thorp during her dramatic time as a Minister seconded to the Lower House was under pressure over a lady employed by the PS who apparently committed either a minor breach or no breach over using Petty cash to purchase some medication, the matter was avoided and never resolved.

    Labor’s 14 year reign created so much dodgy business, one only has to look at the Pulp Mill /Gunns saga and the Bryan Green/ John White jobs for mates … Now we have Mr Guilty but not guilty as the leader of the State Opposition, what a show down.

  16. Robert LePage

    May 27, 2014 at 3:28 pm

    Fixing the Tasmanian health service.

    Sir Humphrey, can you explain what your plan for repairing the Tasmanian health service is?

    S.H. I will rationalize the hospitals. You cannot expect them to operate efficiently when they are full of patients.
    By having all of the wards , operating theatres and other departments empty it will save millions in salaries and wages.
    For instance there will be no need to have cleaners and that means that there will also be a big saving in cleaning materials and electricity for polishers ETC.
    The kitchens would be closed down and all staff laid off saving further costs.
    With no patients, there would be no need for doctors nurses and orderlies.
    The savings here would be immense.
    There would be no need for the electricity supply to be connected still, the building by now being empty and that would also apply to hot water and heating.
    With all of these savings there would be a surplus of cash which could be used to hire more admin staff which would have to be housed in a good hotel because of the lack of facilities in the RHH itself.
    If any emergency patients were inadvertently brought to the A and R, they would be directed to the airport where flights to Melbourne are available .
    This would also apply to any patients with long term illness that were able to make it to the hospital.
    The Ambulance service could be disposed of and the proceeds used to finance a fleet of limousines for hospital admin staff.

    Within a short space of time there would be no health service problems in Tasmania.

  17. John Biggs

    May 27, 2014 at 1:45 pm

    #13. I’m sure you are right Russell. It’s good that Ferguson has blown Labor’s massive mistake on Holden, but this is surely only scratching the surface. If the Liberals want to dig further they should try the judicial system and in particular the conviction of Sue Neill-Fraser, supposedly guilty beyond reasonable doubt of murder, when there was no body, no murder weapon, no motive … etc etc, Then there are the issues in the forestry industry, with which the Libs are implicated as much as Labor. The TIC won’t look at those, a Royal Commission it must be.

  18. Russell

    May 27, 2014 at 12:35 pm

    Re #9
    It’s also very interesting that the TIC have ignored thousands of other members of the public blowing the whistle by complaining about many things, Forestry and pulp mills being top of the list.

    Is this the first thing the TIC has actually done?

    Another in a very very long line of examples of the Tasmanian Government hiring overseas individuals or organisations to treat our island as their own little Empire and giving them the Treasury purse to line the pockets of their families and maaates.

    While Tasmanians have most probably died waiting on elective surgery lists these (people) have taken that money and handed it out in handfulls to their families. Then when our Government gets a whiff of it they terminate the employment and hand over a few hundred thousand dollars more to just go and shut up.

    How much evidence do you need to initiate a Royal Commission and to ditch the TIC?

  19. Simon Warriner

    May 27, 2014 at 10:29 am

    re 11, one swallow does not make a summer. Let’s wait and see what they actually “do about it” first.
    After all, as others have noted, these are only NZ’ers they are dealing with.

    We will know they are serious if they give Dianne Merryfull the powers she seeks for the Integrity Commission and the locals start to fall like dominoes.

    Meanwhile the effect that my partner’s abuse at the hands of her state employer is having on my family … (edited).

  20. Robin Charles Halton

    May 27, 2014 at 2:44 am

    This is why I voted for a Liberal government to replace corrupt Labor and the Greens who continually dodged the issues thus creating an open path for corruption to fester.

  21. Brian P.Khan

    May 27, 2014 at 12:41 am

    The Minister has been given a poison chalice, he would be well aware of the Ombudsman report into the Doctor Paul McGinity allegations and the perpetrators in the Health Department who have never been held to account.

    A.H.P.R.A met 50% of the McGinity’s Insurance costs to resolve this issue.

    An independent arbitrator needs to be appointed to resolve the Health issues in the Dorset Municipality, this issue was put in the too hard basket by the previous administration .

    The McGinity Support Group have been waiting till the government settles in to pursue justice for the good doctor and his loyal patients.

  22. John Maddock

    May 27, 2014 at 12:08 am

    I’m cynical enough to agree with O’Brien, #3.

    The NZers would appear to have been a soft touch; outsiders with no long established network of mates to protect them.

    I’ll be more impressed when some of the Tasmaninan Good Ol’ Boy types are similarly outed – they must exist.

    As the Integrity commissioner said on ABC TV, it is interesting that it took a member of the public to blow the whistle by complaining. A bit of a puzzle, that.

    JV

  23. Kev Rothery

    May 26, 2014 at 10:57 pm

    Astonishing to finally see a tangible outcome emerge from our “toothless” Integrity Commission! Notably in this case the findings are directed against members of the Public Service.

    Perhaps the Commission might be able to enhance their street cred even further one day by delivering findings against Members of Parliament? I recommend they might start by exploring everything that lay behind Lara Giddings’ statement in Parliament to the effect that the whole Statement of Principles process was about trying to assist Gunns to get their pulp mill up. There could only be blatant corruption of the highest order behind such a statement, in my humble opinion.

  24. pilko

    May 26, 2014 at 10:42 pm

    #1 says – “I call on Premier Hodgman to continue rooting out corruption with vigour and determination. Let no stone be left unturned”.

    You trying to humour us Phil?

    Will Hodgman?? The same bloke whose party were beside themselves with rage when Greg L’Estrange replaced convicted white collar crim John Gay as head of Gunns.

    I think the only corruption the Libs will be rooting out is ALP corruption. The Libs & their axis of mates are of course squeaky clean.

  25. Simon Warriner

    May 26, 2014 at 10:05 pm

    Back in 2006, our now Premier wrote the following, as printed in the Tasmanian Times:
    Public Service bullies?
    25.04.06 2:16 pm

    BULLYING by Ministers and senior bureaucrats throughout the Tasmanian public service has become a serious issue that needs to be addressed from the highest level, Leader of the State Opposition, Will Hodgman, said today.
    “This systemic practice of bullying of hard working public servants is coming right from the top and needs to be stamped out,” Mr Hodgman said.
    “Bullying should no longer be tolerated by the State Labor Government. Steps must be taken immediately by the Premier to wipe out this unacceptable practice.
    “The State Service Commissioner, through his most recent survey of public servants, identifies that as many as 12,500 employees believe that bullying occurs within their government agency.
    “Further, as many as 9000 public servants believe that bullying is tolerated within their State Government workplace.
    Mr Hodgman said that comments by the General Secretary of the CPSU yesterday also suggested that bullying was rife throughout the public service under this State Government.
    “And the clear evidence is that a great deal of this bullying is being done by Lennon Government Ministers and by senior bureaucrats under the instruction of Ministers.
    “Quite clearly, the more bullying that occurs within the Tasmanian public service, the more likely that a diminished level of service will be provided to the public, whether it be in the area of education, health, community services or other important area.
    “The Lennon Labor Government has made an art form of bullying of public servants, particularly those who have dared to criticise the policy approach or behaviour of Labor Ministers.
    “The lesson from recent years is that even if bullying policies have been put in place by Departments and agencies, they are not working.
    “I today call upon the Premier to establish a thorough and independent investigation of current protocols within State Government agencies to determine why bullying of public servants has become so rife.

    Examples

    “This independent investigation needs to look at current policies, determine why they are clearly not working, how they could be better implemented and how public servants can better raise their grievances.
    “Further, the Premier needs to make it absolutely clear to his Ministers and their advisers that bullying is completely unacceptable and he needs to lead by example,” Mr Hodgman said.
    Just some examples of bullying by Ministers or senior State Labor Government bureaucrats:
    • victimisation and bullying of employees within Quarantine Services;
    • intimidation of the CEO of the Hobart Sexual Assault Support Service;
    • claims by the President of the AEU that teachers were bullied by senior Education Department officials;
    • bullying and intimidation of volunteer tutors by the former Attorney General;
    • muzzling and bullying of the Director of Public Prosecutions over the domestic violence legislation;
    • allegations of harassment and intimidation at the Intelligent Island agency;
    • claims by the former Anti Discrimination Commissioner that she was bullied;
    • concern by the ANF that nurses were not able to raise patient care issues without the threat of being bullied by senior staff;
    • serious issues of intimidation and bullying of staff at mental health facilities;
    • State Ambulance officials being threatened by a senior Health bureaucrat for speaking out.
    Will Hodgman is leader of the state Liberal Opposition.
    First published April 20,2006

    Given that he is now sitting squarely on top of the pot, what exactly is our Premier doing to give effect to his words? This is entirely relevant to the issue at hand, because bullying and nepotism go hand in hand, both involve denial of rights to fair treatment, and both cost this state $millions in lost productivity and wasted training and ruined lives.

  26. NIgel Crisp

    May 26, 2014 at 8:29 pm

    Truly inspiring stuff isn’t it; Labor health Minister Michelle O’Byrne fast asleep at the wheel by the look of it, but then again, business as usual in Tasmania.
    Wonder how much we’d save with an ICAC down here with sweeping powers ?

  27. Brian O'Neill

    May 26, 2014 at 8:10 pm

    So where was the Health Minister while all this was happening under her portfolio???The Angel of Death, O’Byrne, was cost cutting health care to the max while these (two) were rorting the system to their own advantage.People were dying from lack of health care while these (two) were lining their pockets at taxpayer expense.
    O’Byrne should resign from Parliament in shame.
    Let her explain this one.

  28. O'brien

    May 26, 2014 at 7:27 pm

    So, our Tasmanian Integrity Commission shall be investigating nepotism in The Tasmanian public service? It has to be seen to be doing something. It is no coincidence that the two managers involved in this story are not Tasmanians. To target Tasmanians involved in nepotism within the public service is beyond comprehension, the implications unthinkable. Bread, circus’ the show rolls on.

  29. Mike Bolan

    May 26, 2014 at 7:13 pm

    Let’s hope Michael Ferguson is serious about his intentions and that he is allowed to produce a worthwhile health system.

    Let’s also not forget the thousands waiting in pain on ever growing lists thanks to the previous governments total lack of care for taxpayers.

  30. Phil na Champassak

    May 26, 2014 at 5:39 pm

    How can such shocking and egregious malpractice take place for so long under the previous Health Minister Michelle O’Byrne’s watch?

    That the Integrity Commission is finally delivering positive outcomes can only be good for us. I am sure there are many other areas for which the disinfecting power of sunlight will begin to cleanse the Tasmanian polity of decades of maladministration.

    I call on Premier Hodgman to continue rooting out corruption with vigour and determination. Let no stone be left unturned.

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