Queensland’s hospital crisis has exposed years of Labor’s mismanagement and revealed how Premier Palaszczuk is using Covid to conceal her incompetence.
Figures revealed this week show Queensland hospitals issued 31 “code yellow” alarms throughout September. These alerts instructs ambulances to divert to other emergency departments because hospital beds are at or near capacity.
Code yellows ought to be rare. But on Tuesday, the four largest hospitals in North Queensland all issued code yellows, a situation described as “unprecedented” by Australian College for Emergency Medicine president John Bonning.
Rather than taking ownership of the problem, Anastacia Palaszczuk doubled down on her strategy of using fear of Covid to conceal issues caused by her own government’s failings.
In an attempt at an old-fashioned shakedown, Palaszczuk again threatened to back out of her commitment to the National Plan, saying she would keep the state’s borders closed after 80 per cent of Queenslanders are vaccinated – unless the federal government provides more funding.
What Palaszczuk failed to mention was that federal funding for Queensland hospitals is at record highs.
Even before the pandemic, Federal funding for public hospital services in Queensland was increasing at double the rate of the Queensland government’s own funding. Between 2012-13 and 2019-20, federal funding under the National Health Reform Agreement (NHRA) grew from 2.7 billion to 5.4 billion – a 101 per cent increase.
Queensland’s own funding only increased by 53 per cent over the same period. The new NHRA will see federal funding increase by $8.8 billion over the five years between 2020-21 and 2024-5.
Palaszcuk knows the current hospital crisis has nothing to do with federal funding, just as it has nothing to do with Covid. It’s a problem caused by years of mismanagement by Palaszcuk’s own Labor government.
This is the same reason Queensland hospital ramping rates are skyrocketing. The current state-wide ramping rate is 41 per cent – 20 per cent higher than the same time last year. Ramping rates are particularly bad in South East Queensland, with 8 hospitals having ramping rates above 50 per cent.
What has the Government done about this problem? They did announce a $2 billion hospital building fund in the last budget, but it won’t build a single new facility this financial year.
And if the Queensland Government continues to spend at the rate outlined in the budget, it’ll be 30 years before $2 billion is spent through the fund. It’s not like the Premier dislikes spending. In the next five years Queensland’s government debt is set to hit $127 billion. In the LNP’s last budget it was $80 billion.
Labor likes to describe itself as the party of heath, so you’d think they would have used the last 18 months to prepare Queensland’s hospital system for Covid. Instead, they’ve used Covid as an excuse for inaction.
Labor have turned the state into a virtual hermit kingdom, and are presiding over the slowest vaccination rates in the country. They are preventing thousands of Queenslanders from returning home and haven’t even offered them a timeline of how long they’ll have to wait.
At the start of October there were still 8,310 people who were waiting for their entry permits to be approved. This included almost 4000 Queenslanders. Yet the Queensland government was providing just 245 quarantine hotel rooms.
Behind these numbers are countless heartbreaking stories. There are Queenslanders who left to visit dying relatives and Queenslanders who had to bury their children.
Some left Queensland before any border restrictions were introduced, and many have no place of residence outside of their home state. Some Queenslanders have been able to stay with friends or family while they wait, but many have been forced to bear the financial burden of lengthy hotel stays.
Some Queenslanders who have complained about their plight have been told by Labor’s bureaucracy to go to a homeless shelter.
This is no way to run a hotel quarantine system and its no way to run a state. At the very least, Queenslanders who are double vaccinated should be allowed to return and quarantine at home. Yet Palaszczuk has failed to provide solutions that allow Queenslanders to return while minimising the risk to the community.
Instead she uses fear of Covid to conceal the hospital crisis her government has caused.