Dead on time: Qld achievements that our pollies seem strangely shy to talk about

Queensland Ministers have been unusually quiet when it comes to spreading good news in this election year, so David Fagan has offered them a bit of help

Apr 09, 2024, updated Apr 09, 2024
Steven Miles has awarded an Queensland Health invention making assisted dying easier for all concerned (AAP Image/Darren England)

Steven Miles has awarded an Queensland Health invention making assisted dying easier for all concerned (AAP Image/Darren England)

It’s unusual indeed for governments to go quiet on their achievements but a rare show of modesty has seen the Miles Government do just that.

A great shame indeed because, as I wrote last week, the electorate is in a mood to find fault – whether it’s traffic delays, potholes or train stations closed for upgrade.

But if you’re looking for good news (which I try to sometimes), it’s hard to go past some of the winners of the Queensland Premier’s Awards for Excellence, handed out at just two weeks ago.

Here are some successes worth celebrating:

  • Creation of an alternative learning centre at Ipswich High School for students with a diagnosed emotional, mental, physical or social condition that stops them going to mainstream classes. These kids now have a chance to finish schooling they might otherwise have been denied through no fault of their own;
  • A new approach to clinical photography in the Gold Coast, allowing clinicians to load high-quality images directly onto patient records. This speeds up the medical process, saving time and giving clinicians more time to spend on patient care;
  • Elsewhere on the Gold Coast and Australian-first approach to hysterectomies which eliminates the need to stay in hospital up to three nights. Laparoscopic surgery reduces pain and a new approach to anaesthesia helps patients wake up sooner and less drowsy;
  • Treasury and Resource Department support to reinvigorate the old Mount Morgan gold mine, giving the central Queensland community more than 100 jobs for the next five years;
  • And, my favourite (which I wrote about last year), the Queensland Ambulance Service’s clinical hub which triages patients ahead of full ambulance crews being dispatched. The result is more capacity for the highly skilled paramedics and their expensive kit to be used most where it is needed.

The Premier’s favourite and recipient of his award for public sector excellence was a health project that helped people decide how and when to die.

Implementation of the Voluntary Assisted Dying Act, with its complex web linking health, aged care and legal systems to a workforce more traditionally measured by lives it saves, was considered the showpiece of the Queensland public sector for the year. Almost 600 had registered for the VAD process in its first six months.

There are many others honoured on the night: environmental initiatives to keep Great Barrier Reef islands free of introduced pests; the development of ferry terminals for Moreton Bay islands; the buyback scheme for homes frequently flooded and a frontline forensics project which (like the ambulance initiative) clears the way for frontline police to combat crime.

While much of this is bread and butter work for governments, it’s under-celebrated.

Successes are easily usurped by failure. The National Disability Insurance Scheme, for instance, is a massive success and has delivered better lives to tens of thousands of Australians. But many of them are frustrated with dealing with its bureaucracy; others are anxious to hear of its growing cost.

Construction of the Gold Coast light rail, and its current extension south, adds a whole new dimension to moving around this very linear city but motorists are still frustrated that the rail lights and traffic lights don’t sync.

The media is often criticised for focussing on the negatives but the Premier’s awards show the flip side of that complaint.

Neither the Premier, nor most of his ministers, thought it worthwhile to register the success of their departments in any of the hundreds of media releases issued after the awards night. The reason is a mystery.

Maybe it was a belief that no one would believe or acknowledge a government was capable of good work.

Maybe it was fear that announcing some of the winners would prompt embarrassing questions, like:

How many people have registered to be part of the VAD scheme since its initial six months. (The answer is to wait until September when the Voluntary Assisted Dying Review Board net reports.)

Or, how long did it take to build the Rockwood Weir in central Queensland which won an award for enhancing lifestyle through planning and infrastructure after opening last year. (The answer is 12 years).

Or, how much over-budget will the Queensland Train Manufacturing Program run over the next 10 years. (The answer is $2.4 billion).

Or maybe, it was just a plain, simple, old-fashioned oversight – which this column is happy to correct.




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