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Credit where it's due, but surely our government has more than one competent Minister?


Even when it demonstrably gets something right, the Palaszczuk Government seems unable to avoid messing it up, writes Madonna King

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Often the headline hides the real story, and that’s the case with Queensland’s first ever ministerial directive, ensuring alleged sex assault victims are seen within 10 minutes of arriving at a hospital.

That decision, by the State’s health minister, should be applauded – except that it throws up an unfair anomaly that goes to the heart of good government.

Around the same time Shannon Fentiman’s directive was being reported, to significant fanfare, a father and grandfather, who was suffering heart pain, lay dying.

But it was the circumstances around his death that makes this such a heartbreaking and important story.

Wayne Irving died, after waiting hours in the back of an ambulance parked on a ramp outside an emergency unit of a big hospital, full of life-saving equipment and medicos.

And that, from whatever way you look at it, is unforgivable.

Shouldn’t we be seeing a person, with heart pain, at the front door of our hospitals within 10 minutes?

In Irving’s case, the wait was allegedly three hours. Where is the ministerial directive there? And why did the Government decide to issue one in relation to sex assaults and not heart attacks?

What about those other patients, lying in the back of ambulance vans, just waiting for the green light to be seen by a medico?

In one year – ambulances spent a total of 134,155 hours ramped outside the same 26 hospitals, now bound by Fentiman’s directive.

134 155 hours. That’s 8,049,300 minutes, when even a couple can be the difference between life and death with heart pain.

So let’s celebrate the ministerial directive, but that should not mute the absolutely reprehensible situation, where people appear to be dying outside emergency departments.

Fentiman’s ministerial directive was the first in Queensland. It shouldn’t be the last – and Fentiman should be penning a few quick ones to follow. Her Cabinet colleagues should have their own too.

Here’s a few ministerial directives that might be worth considering around the Cabinet table next Monday. And let’s start with the Health Minister who could issue orders that:

The decision to double the First Home Owner Grant by itself might be seen as good news for young voters, heading to the polls for the first time next October. But just listen to the economists, and how they see it will make the housing market even more expensive at a time when homelessness is at record levels.

Actually, what about that for a ministerial directive?

The list could go on. But the point is the same.

All alleged sex victims should be seen at a public hospital within 10 minutes. That’s good news. But it doesn’t mute the other massive failures that are deserving of the same attention.

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