Queensland COVID governance needs urgent overhaul

Time for a second, third, fourth opinion and more

It’s time that the cost benefit analyses and other modelling being used by Chief Health Officer Jeanette Young are made public, and the circle of advisors and decision-makers broadened according to the convenor of an open letter from 30 public intellectuals.

AIP Executive Director Graham Young said Chief Health Officer Jeanette Young’s brutal admission that you can buy your way out of COVID restrictions if you bring enough business with you, and Premier Palaszczuk’s admission that the state CHO is the only person with the power to value the price of a life, raise a number of questions.

“What cost benefit analysis is the CHO relying-on, and how do her sums add-up?

“Who are her advisors and what is her decision-making process, given she presumably does not just rely on her own experience and understanding?

“What price is she using per quality adjusted year of life saved (QALY) and will this be applied across every part of the health sector, or is it specific only to COVID?

“Given the premier’s distress at the decisions, her admission of lack of control, and the clear inadequacy of the decision-making process (which has now been dealing with COVID for 8 months), when does the premier or the health minister, intend to reform the process?

“Why didn’t the recent parliamentary sittings amend the Health Act to reform and broaden the governance process to involve a range of health and public policy professionals?”

Mr Young said that the group, including 15 professors of relevant disciplines, one of whom is an advisor on health and well-being economics to the UK government, had written an open letter to all heads of Australian governments on June 8, outlining obvious issues.

The letter included the following dot points:

* A cost-benefit analysis, including lives saved versus lives lost, both directly and consequentially, based on the best available information, must be completed before any action is taken;

*Weekly or daily non-epidemic death figures should be posted as well as deaths from the epidemic;

*The types of people who must be part of the advisory group to government should be specified in writing, and be more inclusive than what we appear to have at the moment;

*No directive or regulation restricting individual rights can be promulgated without approval by Parliament within a one-month window.

“All of these are relevant to the situation in Queensland, and if adopted would have avoided the current unsatisfactory situation. A number of the signatories to the letter are available to help the Queensland Government to craft an appropriate governance solution.”