No more excuses – Premier’s comments MUST prompt independent inquiry into SA Health

12 December 2019

Startling contradictory comments Premier Steven Marshall allegedly made to - and about - the ICAC Commissioner’s scathing report into SA Health must prompt the government to conduct an independent judicial review into the beleaguered public health system.

SA-BEST MLC and Health spokesperson, Connie Bonaros, said the bombshell revelation today by Commissioner Bruce Lander that the Premier told him privately his report was problematic to the government, yet said publicly the report was “extraordinarily helpful” was a damning indictment of the government’s entire handling of SA Health since winning government last year.

“Nothing less than an independent judicial review into our public health system is needed to unearth what the Premier is so scared of uncovering,” Connie said.

“Premier Marshall has no other option – he’s now hemmed himself into a corner over the comments he’s alleged to have made to Commissioner Lander,” she said.

“What faith can South Australians have in the Premier and his government if he says one thing privately and something completely opposite publicly.

“What is the Premier hiding? What is he afraid of? Why won’t he allow the most powerful, independent legal entity in the state carry out the investigation he wants into SA Health to determine the depths of corruption and maladministration he believes is happening within the department.

“The people of South Australia need answers – and need answers now!

“It’s vital the Premier also publicly voices his confidence in the ICAC Commissioner and the work he and his office are doing.”

Here is a transcript of comments Commissioner Lander made to host David Bevan on ABC radio this morning:

Bevan: Have you spoken to the Premier, Attorney-General and/or the Health Minister about your report?

Lander: I’ve spoken to the Premier.

Bevan: And what did he say?

Lander: Well, he said publicly that he’s found the report very useful, very helpful. That wasn’t what he conveyed to me though.

Bevan: Well, what did he say to you?

Lander: Ah, he said that the report had put back the chances of correcting the problems in Health.

Bevan: How so?

Lander:  I think he meant that the report was inflammatory.

Bevan: And what did you say?

Lander: Well, I defended myself. I said I thought the public had a right to know about this, the public should know that a person in my position had reached a state of frustration in relation to an agency which had a budget in excess of … $6 billion and that there was significant waste.

Bevan: Were you surprised at the Premier’s comment?

Lander:  Yes…because he’d said publicly that he thought it was a very useful report.

Bevan: So, he’s saying one thing to you and he’s saying another thing publicly?

Lander: He didn’t say to me in that meeting that he thought it was a useful report, no.

Connie said: “The public’s faith in our health system is already at an all-time low due to this government’s disturbing denial to commit to a truly independent, transparent and accountable investigation into SA Health.

“From today, it’s confidence is similarly smashed in the Premier and the government he leads due entirely to the comments he’s made to and about Commissioner Lander’s report into SA Health,” she said.

“Public confidence in the main pillars of our society – law and order, education, health, etc – needs to be beyond reproach,” she said.

“That is being forever tarnished by the State Government while it continues to arrogantly deny its duty of care to the taxpayers of South Australia.

“The government’s behaviour can only be described as scandalous.

“It has totally misjudged the mood of the people – the very people who decide who governs this state.”

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