April 28, 2005 | Graham

Would Joh be impressed with Beattie’s health inquiries?

Many Queenslanders, particularly ALP voters, think that Peter Beattie has a lot in common with Joh Bjelke-Petersen, according to some of our yet to be published research work. Not a view I share. But I think Joh would approve of Beattie’s masterful move to appoint two committees to inquire into the Queensland health system rather than one.
Bjelke-Petersen always held to the maxim that you should never appoint a committee of inquiry unless you knew the answer you wanted it to come to. It was the deliberate flouting of this rule by Joh’s deputy, Bill Gunn, while he was Acting Premier and Joh was out of the country, that brought us the Fitzgerald Committee of Inquiry and caused Bjelke-Petersen’s downfall. Actually, I’m sure that in setting up the inquiry Gunn actually did know the answer, and in my own mind I’ve always branded this seeming act of political naivety as the “Gunnpowder and treason plot”.
By appointing two Liberal Party supporters – Tony Morris QC and Sir Llew Edwards – to run one of his inquiries into Queensland Health Beattie at face value appears to be holding a Gunn to his own head. Morris is a regular legal gunslinger in the Queensland Liberals’ version of Dodge City, having most recently ridden shotgun for Russell “The Rodent” Galt in his challenge to the Moggill preselection.
Louie “The Lie” Edwards (a nickname given to him by parliamentary colleagues) was State Parliamentary Liberal Party Leader and Treasurer to Bjelke-Petersen, and must at the moment be reading with amazement how Joh was single-handedly responsible for a number of things that Edwards himself would lay claim to.
But the Liberal-led inquiry is limited in scope to inquiring into Bundaberg Hospital and the Queensland Medical Board. It will have public hearings and will likely make some harsh judgements, but most likely only of local health bureaucrats, and the Queensland Medical Board.
The other inquiry is to be conducted by Peter Forster, will be a general review of the health bureaucracy but will hear and receive submissions in private. Forster is a consultant who conducted a review of the Department of Families last year and was involved in the Fitzgerald Commission of Inquiry.
All of the publicity has surrounded the Morris Inquiry. I am sure this is the way that the Premier planned it. The problems in health are endemic, and if Forster’s review is properly resourced its report will not be favourable. However, no-one will notice it, because the public will be diverted by the public hearings and probably sensational evidence given to the Liberal-led inquiry.
All of this will reinforce Beattie’s reputation for being prepared to take the tough decisions, impartially, even against the interests of his own party, at the same time as the really damaging stuff is managed under the carpet.

Posted by Graham at 4:47 pm | Comments Off on Would Joh be impressed with Beattie’s health inquiries? |
Filed under: Australian Politics

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