Queensland’s Liberal National Party is defending its Stafford by-election candidate’s non-attendance at a nurses union forum.
Queensland’s nurses union is accusing the Liberal National Party’s Stafford by-election candidate of snubbing mainly female health workers by declining to attend a forum it has organised.
Bob Andersen, a senior psychologist with Queensland Health, is considered the underdog in the battle for the northern Brisbane electorate, which the LNP holds by a seven per cent margin.
But he will be absent from a Wednesday night health forum at Stafford Bowls Club being organised by the Queensland Nurses Union (QNU).
An LNP spokesman said Mr Andersen would instead be attending a “proper community forum” on Saturday being held by a local News Corporation newspaper.
“Health and other issues will be discussed,” he told AAP.
QNU secretary Beth Mohle said Mr Andersen’s spokesman had insulted workers in the largely female health sector.
“His spokesman implies nurses, midwives and other health workers are somehow second rate,” she said in a statement.
“This is an insult to our 50,000-plus nurse and midwife members.”
The LNP spokesman said Mr Andersen would instead be meeting voters.
He added that in January the LNP’s unsuccessful Redcliffe by-election candidate, Kerri-Anne Dooley, a nurse, turned up at a QNU candidates’ forum, only to discover that most of those present in the room weren’t locals.
Mr Andersen did, however, respond to a QNU questionnaire by saying privatisation of hospitals wasn’t on the government’s agenda, despite the LNP fully outsourcing the running of a new Sunshine Coast hospital when it opens in 2016.
“As your members would be aware, this state government has no plans whatsoever to privatise any of our public hospitals,” he said.
“We believe in investing in public hospitals, not privatising hospitals.”
The July 19 Stafford by-election was sparked by the resignation of former assistant health minister Chris Davis.