Govt accused of ‘vote buying’ over health staff days off
THE state government has been accused of “vote buying” after announcing all Queensland Health workers will get two days off as a reward for their efforts during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Health Minister Steven Miles made the announcement on Monday - 47 days out from the state election.
Gladstone-based Queensland Health workers who provided the announcement below by Minister Miles to The Observer said “Is this the government trying to buy votes?”.
Executive health and ambulance staff are excluded from the additional leave.
“Thank you for your ongoing and tireless commitment to Queensland Health’s COVID-19 response,” Mr Miles said in the announcement.
“We are also pleased to announce that Queensland Health staff will receive two additional days of leave in recognition of the contribution you have all made to Queensland’s COVID-19 response.
“These are just a small thank you to recognise the health hero each and every one of you are, whether you are on the front line, or behind the scenes – thank you for everything you have done and everything you will do to keep Queenslanders safe.”
The Gladstone Observer asked Minister Miles why the announcement was made prior to what could be the most critical election in Queensland’s history, and whether health workers had previously been given two days off due to a serious health issue or bad influenza season.
Mr Miles was also asked how this can’t be seen as vote buying and why Queensland Health staff were given the two days off when the pandemic had not been as significant in Queensland as other states (who haven’t been granted the same liberty).
This was his response:
“Our best line of defence against COVID-19 is our health care workforce, who are doing incredible amounts of testing and contact tracing,” Mr Miles said.
“Queensland’s great response to COVID-19 is largely due to these health heroes on the front line.
“I would challenge anyone who does not believe our frontline health heroes, who have been working tirelessly over the past eight months, do not deserve two days leave, to walk into one of the many busy emergency departments across the state, or fever clinics that have been established to help keep Queenslanders safe, and tell that to the staff that are working there.”
Manufacturing and Regional Development Minister, Gladstone MP Glenn Butcher said he fully supported rewarding Queensland Health workers for their efforts.
“I support our health staff and appreciate their efforts on the frontline of our response to COVID-19,” Mr Butcher said.
“Even in areas with low case numbers, their ordinary way of working has been drastically impacted.
“Giving them an extra two days of annual leave is a small token of our gratitude and one that I fully support.”
The Gladstone Observer has approached both LNP candidate Ron Harding and One Nation Candidate Kevin Jorgensen for comment.