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Doctor contracts row: medicos call for calm

Senior doctors have called for calm as both the government and the state's specialists retreat to consider their next move in the doctor employment contracts saga.

More than 1000 doctors voted on Wednesday night to reject the contracts the government had offered and the addendum it had worked on to address their concerns as “entirely inadequate”.

How Health Director-General Ian Maynard said he was treated at the meeting became another bone of contention for the government and gave Health Minister Lawrence Springborg and Premier Campbell Newman an opportunity to shrug off the glove, attack “union thugs” and question the commitment of some doctors to find a solution.

Public hospital senior medical officers are set to be placed on individual contracts.

Public hospital senior medical officers are set to be placed on individual contracts.

Mr Springborg said Mr Maynard, who had been invited to address attendees at the latest "pineapple group" meeting was stopped at the door by an “interstate union thug” and only allowed entry when a doctor intervened.

Speaking in parliament, Mr Springborg said Mr Maynard was allowed five minutes to address the crowd and then presented with a pineapple by organisers.

“If they were designed to get a solution you would see longer than five minutes presented to the director-general, you would not see the appalling indignity of being presented with a pineapple and told to leave the stage whilst everything else was constructed around high emotion.”

Heath Minister Lawrence Springborg

Heath Minister Lawrence Springborg Photo: Glenn Hunt

Mr Maynard, while not addressing the minister's comments said he was stopped from entering the Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre by a “union official from Sydney...and a lawyer supporting that union” and told he was “not welcome here. There will be threats against you personally. You could be at risk. It is not helpful to the process. You should turn around and leave”. And after following Mr Maynard up an escalator, the union official put a hand on his shoulder in an attempt to turn him around.

He said a “concerned doctor” intervened and alerted meeting convener John Fraser, an intensive care specialist, who told him he had “five minutes to speak”.

“There were two things I was frustrated about – one, there were attempts made to discourage me and block me from attending, including physical contact,” Mr Maynard said.

“Secondly, I was given five minutes to convey solutions to a very complex set of issues, which is impossible to do, having been invited there to present the government's position.”

Professor Fraser said the time limit imposed at the meeting was “for the doctors”.

“Mr Maynard was welcomed to put his case forward and we thank him for that, but he has been holding meetings with doctors at hospitals up and down the state,” Professor Fraser said.

“He has been making his case there. Wednesday's meeting was for the doctors to have their say. We were on a pretty tight schedule, so that's why he was limited.”

Professor Fraser said he did present Mr Maynard with a pineapple, but it was done in jest and received “with a big smile on both our faces”.

But Mr Springborg said it was an “appalling indignity”.

Mr Maynard said while he felt he was “insulted by the treatment in general” he spoke to Professor Fraser on Thursday to clear the air.

“[I told him] I wasn't disrespected by the doctors there, that I didn't feel disrespected by him, even though I was the brunt of jokes at my expense,” he said.

“I am a big guy, words don't generally offend me and it was an event that he had organised, but [I said] that I was not comfortable with the behaviour of union officials at that event.”

Doctors who spoke to Fairfax Media said they were surprised by the political reaction to Wednesday's meeting and considered Mr Maynard "courageous" for accepting the invitation to speak.

But they are standing by the resolutions they passed at the meeting.

The April 30 signing deadline still stands.

36 comments so far

  • Why should the HDG be entitled to more time to speak? We don't live in a democracy...

    And in light of how this LNP governments conducts itself to silence dissent across the QLD community, I think 5 minutes is very generous.

    Watching Newman speak on the matter was farcical. He tries to come across tough / ironically smart. But the man is neither. He is genuinely an intellectual black hole. It's like watching a caveman discover for the first time the relative usefulness of opposable thumbs. And I don't know about you but taking on a body of smarts like QLD doctors with a blunt instrument like Springborg seems pretty dumb. It really is as though they went right through QLD and rounded up all of the villiage idiots - brought them to Brisbane - from whom Newman was elected premier.

    So many enemies and yet so little time. Who will they take on next?

    Commenter
    Drewbitz
    Location
    Brisbane
    Date and time
    March 22, 2014, 2:46AM
    • What really amazes me is the way this government, including Newman and Springborg, treat others and the moment they are confronted with a difficult resultant situation, they squeal, carry on beating their chest and strut around like little roosters crowing at the top of their voices.

      Seriously, LNP - will you take ANY responsibility for anything?

      Doctors are obviously quite passionate about these issues (thank goodness they are) - you need to recognise this for what it is. Do you not have any emotional intelligence?

      LNP can't expect people to trust them based on their consistently ugly track record to date. I'm sure there are a lot of Queenslanders hanging out for the next election considering whether or not their future resides in Queensland. Who wants another 3 years of this bs?

      Commenter
      Jane
      Location
      Brisbane
      Date and time
      March 22, 2014, 4:25AM
      • Seems like a typical case of LNP double standards to me. So, the DG of Queensland Health has numerous separate meetings with doctors (when they should be with patients) to convince them to sign Sprinborg's crazy contracts when there was no AMA or relevant union present. He now complains about not getting equal time at an AMA-Union private event (in their own time).

        Also Springborg deliberately excluded the Salaried Medical Officers Association and the Together Union from his own negotiations with the doctors. What a pack of hypocrites!

        Commenter
        Grigori
        Location
        North Mackay
        Date and time
        March 22, 2014, 5:54AM
        • Without legislation and political changes, people like Mr Maynard and Profession Fraser are unfairly put in very difficult no-win situations. Instead of attacking individuals like Professor Fraser in parliament, Newman and Springborg need to show some real leadership.

          Commenter
          Thomas
          Location
          Brisbane
          Date and time
          March 22, 2014, 6:25AM
          • Well if you dont come up with this crap contract in the first place, you wouldnt be treated this way, Maynard. All you wanted is for bureaucrats to control what doctors do to maxmise funding gains, as opposed to patient needs. I certainly hope you don't get sick. Well, if you do, you and Springborg all have private health insurance anyway, so why would you care.

            Commenter
            AT
            Date and time
            March 22, 2014, 7:10AM
            • I'm not sure if their private health insurance will help them after their attacks on the medical profession and public hospitals. After all, those private doctors were trained by public hospital specialists in public hospitals. In addition, they might just find themselves sitting across from a specialist that they forced out of the public system. Perhaps they might be able to go interstate under an assumed name.

              Commenter
              Nick
              Date and time
              March 22, 2014, 7:34PM
          • Shouldn't it be the Premier calling for calm? Oh, thats right......its Newman

            Commenter
            SImon
            Location
            People's Democratic Republic of QLD
            Date and time
            March 22, 2014, 8:06AM
            • C'mon Springborg give us a break, all it is not going your way, so you and the Government have turned to thuggery to bring the Doctors into line. Hows that working for you.
              You raved on about a deal is a deal, yeh well what was mentioned during the election is also a deal.
              Oh yes that does not suit you now.
              Stop being hypocites and admit you got it wrong and strike a new deal, how hard is that or is the Goverment incapable which is more to the reason why

              Commenter
              Give me a break
              Location
              Brisbane
              Date and time
              March 22, 2014, 8:59AM
              • The article indicates that it was a union official who turned to thuggery and intimidation.

                Commenter
                Oscar
                Date and time
                March 22, 2014, 8:53PM
              • Oscar, would that be greater or lesser than Newman and LNP thuggery and intimidation?

                Commenter
                Margo
                Date and time
                March 23, 2014, 1:43PM

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