Queensland Health goes Keystone Cops

HOW lucky we are that we have Queensland Health.

The world spends far, far more on being entertained than it does on being cured – and with Queensland Health we can do both at once.

So long as you’re idea of being entertained is a Stephen King movie.

And there’s a certain dark humour in the way events have unfolded since the obscene news of botched operations, bullying, pandemic under-funding and administrative incompetence.

But at least it’s more interesting than Australian Idol. We have the politicians to thank for that.

Forgive me this outburst. If you stop at this page often you will know I spend about as much time talking about politicians as I do about petty thieves, swindlers and the kind of con‑men who pretend to be from the council while they knock off pensioners’ handbags out of their kitchens.

But you can’t let this kind of performance go by without marvelling at its quality.

We’ve endured the collapse of Queensland Health for the past 10 years or more; we’ve watched governments lie about waiting lists, we’ve watched them threaten bureaucrats with ignominious dismissal if they don’t meet budgets that are so thin they’d escape through a mossie net (while, I might add, politicians wages have burgeoned like mossies in a hot swamp).

We’ve had Mr Beattie, bless him, ‘making no apology’ for the mess. Ah… poor man. It’s not his fault. Nor any of his mates. They’re only in charge.

And now we have to listen to them proudly beating their chests because they’re going to spend $1.6 billion on our health system.

“My Government has presided over an economy that continued to prosper in 2004-2005 with estimated growth of 4 percent ­– double that of the rest of Australia. This represents the ninth consecutive year that the Smart State has outperformed growth nationally.”

That’s what Peter Beattie said. What he didn’t say was: “This represents the ninth consecutive year the Smart State’s health system has been flushing down the toilet.”

And now we’re supposed to be grateful to them?

And don’t imagine for a moment that I have a particular aversion to Pete or the Labor Party. I have an aversion to politicians.

There are three things we need to remember about politicians:

They put themselves first.

They put the party second.

They put other stuff, including lifestyle, cars and power, after that.

They put the people last.

There’s a pattern to politics. The first time a party wins government it’s feeling its way, learning the ropes, listening to people; if they get in a second term they flexing their muscles, testing their wings, learning how to cheat; if they get in for a third term there’s no stopping them. They stop talking about “The People” and start talking about “the punters”. From there it’s a short step to “the mugs” and they begin to believe in their own legend. Three terms in office is quite an achievement. They think they’re invulnerable.

You can’t blame them, of course. They’ve got bills to pay. Children to send to private schools, mortgages to service. Unlike those of us in full-time work, they could find their income slashed at the end of any three-year period; sometimes sooner, if they get found out. (Come to think of, that’s just like us!).

If they have to cheat and lie to protect it all, then they cheat and lie.

What would you do if your livelihood was on the line?

Well, not let people die, I hope; but you might tell a few porkies to keep your job.

Politicians, however, have taken lying to a new level. John Howard, for instance, talks of ‘core promises’, As if there were different levels of promising.

That’s like calling someone a semi-virgin because they only did it once and they didn’t enjoy it.

As usual I’m full of opinions, but empty of answers; unless it’s a benevolent dictatorship – with me as the dictator.