Introducing the NSW Minister Of Malpractice…

Posted: September 26, 2011 in Politics

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Many people like to put off sharing bad news, it is only natural.

I am sure that no police officer likes knocking on anyone’s door to report a death, and I’m sure no doctor likes to announce bad test results, however, it is always best to share the bad news in a timely manner. Failure to do so usually makes matters worse.

A doctor, for example will always want you to know as soon as possible if there is a bad test result. The obvious reason for this is your health, to be sure that any corrective, or preventative measure can be taken to ensure your recovery.

After all, your health is the most important thing, and is not something that any professional, or moral person would choose to gamble with.

Can you imagine your sense of anger and betrayal if you found out that your doctor or somebody in authority had decided not to tell you something of major importance. Had decided that it was better that you stay in danger, rather than break bad news to you, gambling with your life and the lives of your children.

Then imagine that the person, or people who were intentionally putting your family at risk, and keeping vital information a secret were public officials, say, a Premier and an Environment Minister. I’m sure as I would, you would be looking for sackings, resignations, and maybe even criminal charges and jail terms.

It’s a situation that is unacceptable by any decent standard.

However, this type of predicament is only going to happen in a far away place under the control of a demented dictator, like Libya, or maybe, North Korea. You would assume that it could never happen in a civilised country like Australia…

Unless of course, you are one of the approximately 4300 people living in Stockton NSW, which is near Newcastle. If you lived there, you may indeed have a very different view from most, on just how moral, and responsible, the newly elected NSW Liberal Government is. As it turns out, for a damn good reason.

Anybody who has ever seen the movie Erin Brockovich knows how bad Hexavalent Chromium is. However, it seems NSW Health Minister Robyn Parker, and NSW Premier Barry O’Farrell are either not big movie goers, or are just plain uncaring.

Two of the effects and risks of exposure to Hexavalent Chromium are lung cancer,  and Capillary damage in the kidney and intestines.

Other adverse health effects associated with hexavalent chromium exposure, according to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), include skin irritation or ulceration, allergic contact dermatitis, occupational asthma, nasal irritation and ulceration, perforated nasal septa, rhinitis, nosebleed, respiratory irritation, nasal cancer, sinus cancer, eye irritation and damage, perforated eardrums, kidney damage, liver damage, pulmonary congestion and edema, epigastric pain, and erosion and discoloration of one’s teeth.

Charming stuff.

Hexavalent Chromium can be ingested into the body by eating contaminated food, such as home grown vegetables and fruit, drinking contaminated water, pool water or collected rainwater, or by simply breathing contaminated air. If you live in an area where a leak has occurred, it is really unavoidable, and the safe option is to evacuate the area until it has been cleaned.

Stockton resident were understandably concerned for the safety of themselves and their family when they were notified of the leak of Hexavalent Chromioum into their environment by the global giant firm Orica.

Residents would have assumed that they would have been informed immediately by any reasonable government, and would have expected there to have been action on evacuation, and information provided to them within about 2 hours. That would be a reasonable expectation I would have thought.

The problem was, nine hours later the NSW Liberal Government still had not alerted the public or the media. Why the hell not? Is there anything that has a higher priority than public health and safety?

That is nine hours of kids playing outside breathing the contaminated air, nine hours of people eating contaminated food from their gardens. Nine long hours, when thousands of members of the public unwittingly putting their families at risk, because the O’Farrell government did not think their personal safety was worth risking any potential embarrassment to his government.

When the O’Farrell government eventually acted, the clean up of the area was undertaken by workers wearing protective clothes, many with face masks, and done with high pressure water sprays and cleaning agents. Something that surely would not have made the residents feel any better, knowing they had been exposed for so long to something that required safety equipment to clean.


If you are anything like me, you would find it utterly disgusting that the government would gamble with the lives of men, women, and children for nine long hours as their bodies absorbed this hideous chemical, that causes such nasty and debilitating medical problems. After nine hours of that the Premier should have immediately sacked his Environment Minister, and then promptly resigned himself for being stupid enough to appoint her, and for not informing the public himself.

What is an even bigger problem, is that it was not nine hours. In fact, triple that number and you are still way off the mark….

Environment Minister Robyn Parker, and Premier O’Farrell waited Fifty Two hours before alerting the public.

Fifty Two Hours.

That means they actually went to bed twice knowing residents were being poisoned.

How the hell did they sleep? I will stop short of calling them an utter heartless bitch or bastard, but it takes a special kind of person who can go to bed and sleep soundly, all the while knowing that families are continuing to ingest a dangerous chemical that you have decided not to inform them of?

The affects on the residents of Stockton may take years to come to light. The punishment for those in authority who chose to endanger the community, has been astounding in its total absence.

We still have the same Premier, we even have the same Environment Minister, and it gets even worse when you see how the Premier has handled the matter.

The Premier has personally begged the independents to block an official enquiry into the incident, as explained in the article I have put a link to below. O’Farrell clearly determined to try and block any enquiry that shows both his incompetence, and his callousness.

As for the Environment Minister, Robyn Parker, she was not sacked as one would have expected after such a shocking display of total ineptitude and utter disregard. Instead Premier O’Farrell has sent her to learn the art of Media Spin.


Knowing that she can’t be trained not to screw things up so badly again, O’Farrell has sent her to be trained on how to spin it to the media when she inevitably does monumentally screw up, as the linked article explains.

Clearly the Premier knows his minister is not just a waste of space, but a liability.

But if he can keep her in a Ministerial role without trusting her to do her job properly, how can the public trust that Barry O’Farrell is doing his properly?

On the bright side though, at least we now know how the Liberal Party deals with a crisis.

4,300 residents of Stockton deserve better.

In fact, I think we all do.

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  1. Excellent article on the crumbling sense of obligation developing since legislative amendments came into effect stopping government bodies being sued as entities. Yet look at the assault on Christine Nixon for going out for dinner at a pub, that took 3 hours not 52 at leasat she had trained emerbgency operatives at the switch and still got crusified. Whats the excuse of these two clowns?

    I suggest the lack of outcry is due to ignorance of not only the facts, but the incident even occuring. And considering the powers and obligations under public health laws an immediate shutdown was warranted and possible if only they wanted to.
    Bitch and bastard seems exactly right to me. Shall retweet and email to all I know to try to raise awareness of a deliberate and negligent act.

  2. wixxy,
    Sorry to be a pedant, but Robyn Parker is the NSW Environment Minister, not the Health Minister. Jillian Skinner is the Health Miinister, and she won’t need Spin Training, she’s a journalist. 🙂

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