Friday, September 4, 2009

Just When You Thought Things Could Not Get Any Worse

Just when you thought things could not get any worse for the New South Wales government, yet another disaster occurs. Let’s see now, this week kicked off with the major business organizations issuing a public warning that the Labor Party’s lack of internal discipline was bringing the state into disrepute and further undermining business confidence. Then came the decision by the Land and Environment Court which found that deeds of agreement swapping conservation land for development approvals were invalid, and gave the impression that approvals could be bought. However, before we could even realize just how embarrassing this was for a government already laboring under the perception of being incompetent, the blonde bombshell was dropped all over the front page of the Telegraph.

While the John Della Bosca resignation occurred suddenly and unexpectedly under spectacular circumstances, the fallout is likely to continue, well falling out, for quite some time. The news that the health portfolio is now temporarily in the hands of a former health minister who already has his hands full as attorney general was seen as a blow to a sector which not only needs a full time minister, but which can’t seem to keep the same minister in the seat for more than about twelve months. This is even less welcome at a time when the widely held perception is that the health sector is undergoing a crisis, and is in need of urgent reform.

More bad news has followed with the relationship between the government and the Shooters Party reported to have broken down. This means that unless the government can strike a deal with the greens, or even the opposition, none of its legislation will pass through the upper house. To all intents and purposes, the government of New South Wales has been plunged into a state of paralysis. It is no wonder that people keep asking if there is some way to sack the government and go to an election. Of course, the answer to that is no, we are stuck with them until 2011.

Now, the latest horror to be served up is the report that an elderly man in Concord Hospital was allowed to lie on a bedpan for nearly a week, so that it actually became embedded in his skin. While there are conflicting reports about the accuracy of the story, it seems that there is no doubt that the man has some very unpleasant injuries, and it appears that they may have been inflicted through some form of negligence. While John Della Bosca is not personally responsible for such a thing occurring, it is yet another sign that the health system is continuing to let us down badly, at a time when it would seem that the minister in charge has had his mind on other matters.

All in all it has not been a week to inspire any confidence in the government. The only positive thing to come out of it all is that it now appears that the heat has gone out of the leadership question. With one of the potential challengers now on the sidelines, the Premier may now actually have the opportunity to get on with the job of running the state. Of course, if things keep on going as they have been, pretty soon there won’t be any more leadership contenders left at all, and Nathan Rees will be the last man standing. But don’t bet on it.

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