Queensland nurses and midwives dispute privatisation assurances

Attempts by the Queensland premier Campbell Newman to reassure Queenslanders about his public hospital privatisation program are disingenuous and also confirm that one aim is to cut the pay and working conditions, including safe staffing systems, of nurses, midwives and other health workers, the Queensland Nurses Union (QNU) said on Monday.

The QNU was responding to letters sent by Mr Newman to various Queenslanders who recently expressed their opposition to the LNP’s policy of privatising Queensland’s free public hospital system, by signing the QNU’s petition on the issue.

QNU secretary Beth Mohle said some people who received letters from the premier have shown them to QNU officials and sought QNU advice on the contents.

“After reading the premier’s comments it is clear that his statements cannot go unchallenged and I have now written to him disputing many of his assertions. This is an important debate about an issue that has major healthcare and cost-of-living implications for nurses, midwives and every Queenslander. The LNP will not be allowed to get away with the sort of spin evident in his responses.

“For example, Mr Newman’s claim that the call for expressions of interest for the privatisation of the Sunshine Coast University Hospital ‘follows an extensive analysis of alternative modes of delivery by expert independent consultants, KPMG’ is contradicted by the numerous disclaimers from KPMG about the material it had to work with in its final report on the SCUH. The large amount of material redacted from the final report released to the public also makes it virtually impossible to form a real view of the value of this report.

“Thirdly, the massive volume of redacted material in the KPMG hospital privatisation reports also undermines Mr Newman’s claim that any contract arrangements will ‘ensure these hospital and health services have the same level of accountability and transparency as Queensland Health (QH) run services and facilities’.

“In his response to at least one petitioner, Mr Newman also confirms the fears of nurses and midwives that the privatisation policy, whatever names they try to hide it behind, is about reducing pay and conditions. He unequivocally states his government is committed to ‘reforming industrial relations’, despite concealing this fact prior to the last state election,” Ms Mohle said.

The letters are viewable here: Newman letters and QNU response Oct 2013


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