Dumping bad news behind distraction
THE Friday dump. Take out the trash day. Hiding behind the holidays.
There has been a long-held tradition by all levels of Government of all political persuasions to time bad news with big events, holidays or late on a Friday in a bid to lessen the blow.
This week the Commonwealth Games concealment can be added to that list.
As all eyes were on the Gold Coast watching Australian athletes win gold medal after gold medal, several pieces of bad news – some of which are extremely serious – were released.
First cab off the rank was the Queensland Competition Authority’s water pricing report.
The QCA has recommended the cost of the bulk water component on a southeast Queenslander’s bill rise by up to $90 over three years.
Such an increase will hit households already struggling with cost-ofliving increases.
Households whose frugal water use led to the recommended price jump as the state failed to earn as much as it thought it would to pay down its water grid debt.
The report was commissioned by Government and was handed over on March 28.
It was not released publicly by the QCA until 13 days later, in the midst of the Commonwealth Games.
The QCA argued that it needed firstname.lastname@example.org that time to prepare media releases and other material associated with the report’s release.
On Thursday, the Government released its public service workforce statistics for the December Quarter.
Those figures were gathered by the Public Service Commission on December 12 last year but the report was not released until four months later.
It showed about 20,000 full-time equivalent public servants were employed in the December quarter than were on the books at the start of the Palaszczuk Government’s first term.
For a Government repeatedly having to defend its public servant hiring and a fiscal principle it has yet to meet, these figures were always going to raise questions.
Then late Thursday another bombshell was dropped and extremely late in the day, with the tabling of the child deaths annual report.
The state’s family and child commissioner had signed off on her re- port on October 31 – six months before its public release last week.
It showed four children known to child safety had died from a fatal assault.
Almost half of the children who tragically committed suicide last financial year – nine out of 21 young lives lost this way – were known to Child Safety, as were 10 of the 19 children who drowned. These figures are sobering and they raise questions about the effectiveness of the child protection system.
Then, late yesterday, more bad news was served up more than a week after authorities knew about it.
Queensland Health revealed on Friday afternoon that chemicals found in banned firefighting foam had been located in the water supply of a Bundaberg suburb.
Thousands of residents will now be offered free blood tests. Queensland Health had known a week prior. An entire week. They blamed the local council for the timing of the announcement.
It is these kind of tactics that only serve to further alienate an already cynical voting public, many of whom stopped believing politicians had their best interests at heart a long time ago.
Many of whom now sadly would be surprised to see the representatives acting any other way.
HIDDEN DROP: The Government is great at releasing bad news by stealth.