Marg Gilbert and QLD Health

After a long three days in the Queensland Industrial Relations Commission, we can finally provide you with an update on the important Gilbert case. This was the case where Marg, your Prince Charles Hospital Branch Secretary (an NPAQ delegate) was given a show-cause notice for speaking to the media about the quality of training nursing graduates receive from universities. 

The case is also testing whether the NPAQ is an ‘industrial association’ (trade union) and whether that QLD Health Memorandum was misleading. 

The Australian reported:
A senior Queensland Health employee asked the Nurses and Midwives Union for input on an official government document that incorrectly undermined the legitimacy of a fledgeling rival ­association.
Queensland Health’s former acting director of industrial relations, Anne Garrahy, accepted the advice of the QNMU and adopted it in the memo, which went out to all staff and said Health staff could not be represented on industrial matters by the rival Nurses Professional Association of Queensland.
Anne Garrahy was a professional officer at the QNMU, one of the highest-paid employees and is still a member of the QNMU.   
Senior officials in Queensland Health revealed in cross-examination that the memorandum would have been misleading if read by nurses.

Marg Gilbert leaving the QIRC

Also revealed at the hearing was the extraordinary speed at which Prince Charles executive issued Marg a show-cause notice with, admittedly, ZERO investigation. The Commission was told that no other case in their memory was like this. It's very likely that both Anne Garrahy (the author) and Silven Simmons (the signer of the infamous and misleading memorandum) will be referred to the Crime and Corruption Commission over their involvement with the Memorandum. Many senior QLD Health officials have likely breached the Public Sector Ethics Act.

Queensland Health’s Barrister, Adrian Duffy argues that the NPAQ is not an industrial association because it does not fit this definition s 279 IR Act

(b) an association of employees having as a  principal purpose the protection and promotion of their interests in matters concerning their employment;

They say an 'association' must be unincorporated, as:

(a) generally, means an unincorporated body or entity formed or carried on to protect and promote its members’ interests;

Meaning that the NPAQ would need to unincorporate in order to be an industrial association / trade union. For what it is worth, our Queens Counsel strongly disagrees, however it is a move we’re willing to make if we have to. We certainly aren’t going anywhere.

The matter has been adjourned until 11 September 2020 where the Commission will hear closing arguments. 

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