Thursday 09 June, 2016

Mr TARZIA (Hartley) (15:11): Recent events have shown that this government's moral compass is broken. Its moral compass is destroyed. Let me explain. The recent chemotherapy bungle, in which 10 patients received less than half the required dose of their chemotherapy drug, has demonstrated how callous and out of touch this Labor government is. These patients were not given their best chance in their fight against leukaemia. This is a huge mishap and the ensuing response from the state Labor government over the last 15 months has to be one of the biggest failures of the health system to date.

The Weatherill Labor government's treatment of victims of BreastScreen SA errors—patients who are yet to see fair and unconditional compensation for their mistreatment—is just as bad. Why does the government insist on having women with a terminal illness wait years to know whether their suffering will be acknowledged and compensated? As Andrew Knox, one of the cancer patients involved in the chemotherapy dosage bungle, said on FIVEaa this morning, 'This is not about compensation: it is about conduct.'

The government has acted callously, allegedly making 'take it or leave it' offers to patients and then refusing to admit that this is so. What we saw today was an absolute disgrace. Any reasonable government would be quick to provide fair and unconditional compensation to the victims of such a stuff-up, of such a significant chemotherapy dosage mistake. However, all we have seen from this Labor government is a disgusting, slow, unfair, penny-pinching approach that fails to show any level of respect or dignity to the victims of a failed Labor government healthcare system.

Last year, the Premier stood in front of cameras and said that the families are getting all the support they need. We have now heard from the victims and their families that this was not the case. What we have had in South Australia for years and years under this government is a culture of cover-ups. The government is more concerned with protecting itself, its own members and its own seats, rather than its own citizens. I ask all the government members across the chamber to stand up for what is right, stand up for the victims and stand up to the Premier. This culture of cover-ups has to stop and it has to stop now.

How can the government treat terminally ill people this way and do so for so long? I know what it is like to have a loved one diagnosed with cancer, as do many of you. My mother was diagnosed with breast cancer when I was in year 12 at school, and my mother's world came crashing in on her, just as it did for all these other victims when they found out they had cancer. When victims are given the bad news, it is a time when family, health specialists and their networks have to band together around them to do everything possible to care for them.

They do not need this rubbish caused by those opposite me. It is an absolute disgrace. Anyone who has experienced a similar thing knows that it is a time when the cancer patient needs nothing but the best care and attention. They have enough stress going on in their life. They do not need any more, and what this government has recently put them through is an absolute disgrace. What this government do and the way that they have dragged them through this is an absolute outrage. I have deep, deep empathy for Andrew Knox and the other victims, the other patients, who have been victims of this bungle and other bungles and this disgraceful cover-up culture that exists in this government.

The first time Andrew and the other patients involved heard that the government was willing to pay for any legal advice was this Monday, 15 months too late. What an absolute disgrace. As I said, this state government's moral compass is broken. They need to have a good, hard look at themselves. It is doing an injustice to the people of South Australia. How can they trust the minister? How can they trust the Premier? How can they trust our system when things like this go on and on, especially in the recent cases of the victims that I have spoken about?

This government will be measured and it will be judged on how it treats the most vulnerable members of the public, like the ones I have mentioned, instead of legalistic arse-covering. That is what is going on here, that is what we heard today from the Premier and the minister: legalistic arse-covering and trying to avoid bad press. The government needs to immediately establish a judicial inquiry into this mess.