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Vanishing act: New health chief quits the job before he even starts

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The man chosen to replace Jeannette Young as the state’s chief health officer has sensationally quit the post days before he was due to take over.

 

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Health Minister Yvette D’Ath broke the news on Thursday afternoon just hours after Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk praised Dr Young’s tenure in parliament.

“For personal reasons, Dr Krispin Hajkowicz will no longer be taking up the position of Chief Health Officer,” the minister said in a statement.

“Deputy CHO Dr Peter Aitken will act in the role until a permanent replacement is appointed.

D’Ath said she “respected Dr Hajkowicz’ decision and his request for privacy”.

Dr Young is in her final week in the role she has held for 16 years as she prepares to become the state’s 27th Governor on Monday.

Palaszczuk led tributes to Young’s work in state parliament on Thursday, describing the burden she carried during the pandemic as “unprecedented”.

“This has meant enormous pressure, sleepless nights, and a torrent of information which she has processed calmly and clinically, with compassion and care,” she said.

Young has previously described infectious diseases physician Hajkowicz, as “the perfect person” to succeed her as the state prepares for an increase in cases when the border opens.

Palaszczuk said that prior to the COVID-19 outbreak, Young campaigned for better health outcomes for issues including smoking, obesity and the flu.

“Anything from a public health perspective that improves the lives of Queenslanders – from the inner-cities to our remote indigenous communities,” Palaszczuk added.

Of Young’s work, D’Ath said the state was now in the best possible position, with low COVID-19 case numbers and no community spread, as it prepares to open its borders in December.

“She has taken her role extremely seriously, it has weighed heavily. She knew what the risks were in every single decision she made,” she said.

 

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