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Searching for the Public Interest Disclosure


Mr Seeney and Mr Springborg lost Government after 

 an election saw Labor voted into the Queensland 

 Government on 31 January 2015.

The new Premier  

Annastacia Palaszczuk      

The new Minister for Health

Cameron Dick

The ALP Member for Sandgate

Stirling Hinchliffe

I pursued the suppression of Public Interest Disclosure with the new Government.

On 18 February 2015 I emailed Mr C Dick about the missing PID:

“…On 8 July 2014 I submitted a Public Interest Disclosure (PID) to then Deputy Premier, the Hon Jeff Seeney, to convey my deep concerns that, due to an existing conflict of interest, the Queensland Health (QH) culture of secrecy discovered by the Bundaberg Commission is thriving because supposedly independent investigations into probable misconduct within the QH Administration, by independent investigative bodies, are fully and unconditionally reliant upon the findings of QH internal investigations…… My request on 13 October 2014 asking the Deputy Premier to update me on the status of my PID submission is still being ignored. It is statistically impossible for every individual involved, in determining the truth contained in the documents confirming the discrimination, to individually, and collectively, omit the irrefutable existence of Ms Mason's erroneous information to me in her letter dated 25 May 1998. It is far more probable that the suppression of this undeniable information, upon which the ADCQ accepted my discrimination complaint, was orchestrated by QH at the highest levels…Thanking you"

On 20 February 2015 I sent a chain email to all Liberal-National members of the now opposition government, excepting Mr J Seeney and Mr L Springborg, hoping some Members might take the time to ask Mr Seeney what became of the PID.

Four members responded:

One Member referred the email to Mr C Dick, the Minister for Health.

One Member referred the email to Mr Seeney; requesting he clarify his actions upon his receipt of the PID.

Two Members forwarded the email to my local (ALP) Member of Parliament, Mr Stirling Hinchliffe.

A later Freedom of Information request confirmed the chain email had been forwarded from Mr Dick to the Department of Human Resources in order to prepare his response:

Without receiving word from Mr Dick I followed up the two referrals made of my email to Mr S Hinchliffe, my local Member of Parliament:

Mr Hinchliffe had referred them to Mr Dick:

In the mean time I asked for Mr Hichliffe's assistance:

I also contacted Mr Seeney:

Mr Seeney finally acknowledged his receipt of the PID, confirming its referral Queensland Health:

I directly followed up with the previous Health Minister, Mr L Springborg:

Doubtful Mr Springborg would respond I again asked for the support of Mr S Hinchliffe:

Whilst I was waiting for responses from Mr Dick, Mr Springborg and Mr Hichliffe, documents later released to me through Right to Information (RTI) showed Queensland Health had labelled my concerns NRR (No Response Required):

A further RTI release of the Ministerial brief, authored on 18 March 2015, notably suppressed any mention of the PID when advising the Health Minister not to respond:

The second page of the brief revealed it had been authored on 18 March 2015 by Ms Alexis Stephens who, on 9 June 2013, had refused to provide the assistance offered by the previous Minister for Health, Mr L Springborg, with regards to the Ombudsman's concerns which had been buried by Queensland Health.

Ms Stephens had discarded the Public Interest Disclosure disclosing the Queensland Health suppression of 26 specific items of concern raised, in 2001, by the Queensland Ombudsman with the Queensland Health Director-General.

A definite conflict of interest existed when Ms Stephens, who previously refused to address the Ombudsman's concerns in 2013, was then in the position to create a Ministerial brief which suppressed those very same concerns.

Ms Stephens 'NRR' recommendation to Mr C Dick was not based upon the content of the PID, or my alleged suppression of the PID by Queensland Health. Just as she had suppressed the Ombudsman's concerns to Mr Springborg, she had suppressed the PID to Mr Dick!

The next page of the brief MI202107:

The Minister signed the two prepared letters without questioning why my PID had not been addressed.

To date the only acknowledgement of the existence my PID, albeit nine months late, had come from Mr Seeney.

There was a definite reticence to acknowledge the existence of the PID, or to find out what had become of it.

Although unaware then of Ms Stephens ongoing involvement behind the scene, I was certain Queensland Health had buried it when, once again by-passing them, I wrote directly to the electorate office of the Health Minister:

At that time I was unaware my personal request to Mr Dick had been referred to the Queensland Health administrators who had, for the past three months, buried the PID.

A further brief was requested for 4 June 2015:

RTI documents demonstrate how Ms Alexis Stephens was again involved with this further inquiry MI20372:

My resignation appeared to be of more concern for the creators of the new brief, MI203572, than the actions taken by the Minister, Mr Springborg, following his receipt of the PID.

It also appeared they found then Deputy Premier Mr J Seeney not to be a proper authority to deal with the PID, and omitted that, in direct contravention of the PID Act, I was not informed as to whether my PID was a PID or not, and had never been provided a response to my PID. 

Unaware of the brief, after a month had passed since writing to Mr Dick without effect, I again asked Mr Hinchliffe for support:

Mr Hinchliffe remained detached from the suppression of the PID:

Concerned with the complete lack of response to the PID, on 9 June 2015 I replied to Mr Hinchliffe:

“In his letter dated 6 May 2015, the Hon Cameron Dick accepted advice from his Department that the 2006 Workplace Investigation Unit’s review initiated by then Minister for Health, Mr S Robertson, (previously accepted by Mr S Robertson in 2006, and by the then Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Health, Mr Murray Watt MP, in 2010) had found…'...Ms Mason did not state to you that she had communicated to the Department of Workplace Health and safety specifically about your issues...’ The Health Minister Mr C Dick added in his letter dated 6 May 2015 that from the information provided (I presume from his Department) he is satisfied my concerns have been properly addressed by Queensland Health and a number of external bodies.

As his predecessors had done before him, Mr Dick has allowed himself to be persuaded by his Department to unconditionally accept unsound information and advice from a Department well known for its established culture of secrecy, which absolutely wants to keep the long-standing cover-up of Ms Mason’s erroneous claim deeply buried. Therein lies my dilemma. I can only ask again that you please represent me and find out where my Public Interest Disclosure, disclosing the truth about the content of Ms Mason’s letter dated 25 May 1998, has been buried. I wish to add that I am not interested in seeking legal representation.”

Mr Hinchliffe ignored my email.

To date the only confirmation of the very existence of the PID had come from Mr Seeney. Mr Springborg remained free to discount his actions following Mr Seeney's referral of the PID.

I sent a further email to Mr Dick's electorate office, attaching a similar letter to that sent on 18 February which

had not been acknowledged:

 The enclosed letter of 25 June 2015:

“My reason for submitting a Public Interest Disclosure in 2014 was because…Queensland Health is fully protected from accountability for evidence proving misconduct, or from accounting for the full licence it has to covertly remove inconvenient evidence from investigations into misconduct, by the external bodies of the Anti-Discrimination Commission Queensland, the Queensland Ombudsman and the CMC, who refer complaints of misconduct directly back to Queensland Health for self-investigation, where a conflict of interest exists…The fact Queensland Health buried the PID is testament to the fact the Department of Health and the Office of the Deputy Premier…are immune to the provisions of the Public Disclosure Act for whistle blowers…

When you held the position of Attorney-General, you wrote to me 1st December 2010: 'Page two of your letter asks whether the Attorney-General ‘…would be prepared to ask the Parliamentary Secretary for Health, Mr M Watt MP and the Minister for Health, Mr Paul Lucas why they both refuse to disclose the outcome of a QH investigation instigated in 2008 by the then Health Minister Mr S Robertson, into the Director-General’s refusal to explain why the 26 items of concern raised by the Ombudsman with his office have never been addressed?’ Given the nature of your letter, I have sent a copy of your letter and this reply to the Honourable Paul Lucas MP, Deputy Premier and Minister for Health, for his consideration.' Your referral was ignored.

There is a definite culture of secrecy...The Department would prefer to cover up evidence confirming it is not an equal opportunity employer, than to tackle the bullying which takes place in the workplace…if you send this letter to the Department…it will be buried alongside my PID. I sincerely hope you respond...”

Meanwhile, behind the scene, Queensland Health's key concern continued to regard my resignation:

The resulting brief, appeared identical to that authored on 29 May, didn't reference the letter received by Mr Dick on 25 June 2015, or the Queensland Health burial of the PID, in 2014.

Following the assessment of the PID Ms Alexis Stephens and her colleagues failed to take into consideration that, in accordance with the PID Act, Queensland Health was surely, under the PID Act, required to finally acknowledge the PID and inform me:

(1) Their acknowledgement of the existence of the PID.

(2) Whether or not my PID met with the definition of a PID.

(3) If my PID did not meet the definition of a PID; whether or not the content was important.

(4) The reason for their decision not to investigate.

Because my letters were being ignored I made applications to Right to Information to determine what actually become of the PID in 2014, why it wasn't responded to, and why, at the present time in 2015, my concerns regarding the suppression of the PID were not being acknowledged.

On 5 February 2016 the Office of the Information Commissioner confirmed:

(1) My PID and the follow up email, sent to Mr Seeney in 2014, had been located in the emails of both the former Deputy Premier and former Minister for Health,

(2) No record of the referral could be located.

(3) No responses to the PID were located.

(4) The Commissioner advised a referral of a PID was likely to be formally notified in hard copy and kept for a minimum of two years - No hard copy was located:

The Commissioner's confirmation that the Minister for Health had received my PID, and had not responded as required by the PID Act, gave some hope that Mr Hinchliffe might finally agree to represent me after advising him of the Information Commissioner's findings:

Mr Hinchliffe ignored me so I wrote to the Queensland Premier:

Without acknowledging my concerns regarding the Queensland Health burial of my PID, the Premier advised I follow the previous advice received from the Health Minister; to seek legal advice:

I responded to the Premier:

The Premier failed to answer so I again requested representation from my local MP, Mr Hinchliffe:

Mr Hinchliffe failed to respond so I wrote further to Mr L Springborg on 25 July 2016, requesting he follow-up his earlier referral on 15 April 2015 to his Brisbane Office. He responded:

RTI had confirmed Mr Springborg had received the Public Interest Disclosure when Minister for Health; as all concerns raised with the Minister are dealt with by administration, it appears the administration controls the Office of the Minister!

Mr T Nicholls, leader of the Opposition, declined my request to raise a debate in Parliament regarding the Queensland Health culture of secrecy; which is enabled by self-investigations.

The Queensland Health cover-up of the discrimination remains firmly intact.

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