Voters in four Queensland electorates, including the premier’s, have backed doctors who are refusing to sign the state government’s new work contracts.
Queensland voters believe the Newman government is mismanaging the health system and have backed doctors involved in a bitter contract dispute, a new poll shows.
The Reachtel poll in four Queensland electorates shows voters are on the side of doctors, who are refusing to sign the government’s new work contracts.
The dispute has led to threats of mass resignations, and the federal Opposition has now called on federal Health Minister Peter Dutton to intervene to resolve the standoff.
The dispute reached a new low over the weekend, with news Queensland Health is going to the Federal Court in a bid to stop unions spreading alleged “misinformation” about the contracts.
Unions have denied they are misrepresenting the contracts, and say the government is trying to use federal consumer-protection laws to intimidate and bully doctors.
The new Reachtel poll, commissioned by the Keep Our Doctors protest group, polled voters in Premier Campbell Newman’s seat of Ashgrove, along with voters in Cairns, Ipswich West and Mundingburra.
An average of 67.7 per cent of respondents, across all four electorates, said they opposed the government’s push to force doctors onto individual work contracts.
Just 17.5 per cent supported the move, with 14.7 per cent undecided.
Voters were also scathing of the premier’s plan to deal with any mass resignations by importing doctors from interstate or overseas, with more than 77 per cent saying that would hurt public hospitals.
More than 85 per cent said they were very or somewhat concerned that doctors would walk away from public hospital work.
Half of all voters also said they believed public healthcare had deteriorated in the two years the Newman government had been in power.
Keep Our Doctors spokesman Dr Rob Thomas says it’s clear voters support doctors in the dispute.
“Rather than trying to find a sensible solution to the problem, the premier and health minister are actually daring doctors to leave the system,” he said in a statement.
“They say they’ll just bring in foreign doctors if our local doctors leave. There’s no doubt that the vast majority of Queenslanders aren’t happy with that approach.”
Federal Opposition health spokeswoman Catherine King said Mr Dutton must intervene, and mass resignations would be disastrous for Queenslanders.
The Federal Court is on Monday expected to hear Queensland Health’s application to stop the circulation of documents it says are misleading.
Queensland Health Director-General Ian Maynard says unions have done nothing over the past three weeks to correct misinformation being circulated about the contracts.
“… so really we have no further option but to take it to an independent body to determine the next steps,” he said.
But unions named in court documents say it’s a bullyboy tactic.
The Together Union says the government has resorted to intimidation to try to stifle community and professional debate about the contracts issue.