Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
What is the Inquiry all about?
The Inquiry is an independent inquiry into Queensland Public Hospitals in accordance with its Terms of Reference. Those Terms of Reference are available here. A summary of the main issues is provided on the Home Page.
This Inquiry has received almost all of the evidence tendered to the terminated Bundaberg Hospital Commission of Inquiry and is receiving further evidence.
Who is running the Inquiry?
The Commissioner (head of the Commission) is the Hon Geoffrey Davies AO, a former Appeal Court judge. Commissioner Davies is one of Queensland's most distinguished and respected jurists, with more than four decades of legal experience. He was a Judge of the Court of Appeal for more than 13 years before he retired this year. Commissioner Davies was Queensland Solicitor-General (1989-1991) and a president of the Queensland Bar Association and the Australian Bar Association. He was admitted to the bar in 1962 and became a Queen's Counsel in 1976.
Commissioner Davies will be assisted by a team of highly respected legal professionals, and experienced administrative staff. Details of other members of the Inquiry team are available here.
Is the Inquiry independent from the Government?
Yes, the Inquiry is totally independent and impartial, and is in no way answerable to the Government. In announcing the Inquiry, Premier Peter Beattie stated that while the government favours open hearings and transparent processes, decisions about how the inquiry runs are entirely for the Commissioner.
Attorney-General Linda Lavarch has also emphasised that Commissioner Davies will operate independently of the government and the Crime and Misconduct Commission.
How can I contact the Inquiry?
Full contact details are available here.
What has happened to the transcripts of the public hearings of the former Bundaberg Hospital Commission of Inquiry and the public exhibits tendered to that Inquiry?
The new Inquiry has full access to all material and evidence from the former Bundaberg Hospital Commission of Inquiry.
On 8 September 2005, at a preliminary hearing of the new Inquiry, after hearing arguments from relevant legal representatives, Commissioner Davies AO ordered that the whole of the evidence admitted in the former Bundaberg Hospital Commission of Inquiry, other than the evidence of Mr Leck and Dr Keating, and any documents tendered as exhibits during the evidence of either of them, be admitted as evidence in the Queensland Public Hospitals Commission of Inquiry. Further, Commissioner Davies also gave the legal representatives an opportunity to make further submissions in writing by 10 o'clock Thursday 15 September 2005 directed to the question as to whether some part of the evidence which was admitted should be expunged from the record for any reason. No such submissions were made.
What has happened to submissions and other information made to the former Bundaberg Hospital Commission of Inquiry?
The new Inquiry has full access to all submissions (and other information) from the former Bundaberg Hospital Commission of Inquiry.
Some of the submissions (and other information) received by the former Bundaberg Hospital Commission of Inquiry fall outside the terms of reference for the new Inquiry. For example, submissions relating solely to systemic matters fall outside the terms of reference for the new Inquiry. These submissions (and other information) are being made available for examination by the Queensland Health Systems Review conducted by Mr Peter Forster.
Can I request that my submission to the former Bundaberg Hospital Commission of Inquiry be returned to me?
No. The records of the former Inquiry, including those documents on the former Inquiry’s website, must be dealt with in accordance with the Public Records Act 2002. The Queensland Public Hospitals Commission of Inquiry can, however, provide you, upon request, with a copy of any submission you made to the former Bundaberg Hospital Commission of Inquiry.
Is the new Inquiry still accepting information or submissions from the public?
Yes. Commissioner Davies encourages anyone with relevant information, which falls within the terms of reference, to come forward, and he invites submissions from anyone with an interest in the outcome of the Inquiry. Full details are provided on the page Having your say.
If I provide information to the Inquiry, can I request confidentiality?
Yes. The Commission has various ways to protect confidentiality where necessary. Further details are provided here.
If I provide information to the Inquiry, can I be protected from retaliation?
Yes. Under the Commissions of Inquiry Act 1950, a witness at the Inquiry has the same protection as a witness in the Supreme Court. It is a serious criminal offence, punishable by up to 1 year’s imprisonment, to dismiss or prejudice any employee because of evidence given to the Inquiry. In addition, evidence which you give to the Inquiry cannot be used against you in any criminal or civil proceedings*. The Commission also has various ways to protect confidentiality where necessary. Further details are provided here.
Further, one of the terms of reference for the Queensland Public Hospitals Commission of Inquiry is to examine whether any Queensland Health official made reprisals or threatened reprisals against anyone who blew the whistle about Dr Patel. In announcing this term of reference, Premier Peter Beattie noted that the Government had added this additional reference because the Government is “determined to protect anyone who blew the whistle in the Dr Patel case, and to reassure Queensland Health staff that legitimate whistle blowers will always be looked after”.
Is the Inquiry open to the public?
Yes. Details of the Inquiry’s public sittings are provided here.
Will the new Inquiry continue to permit the media to broadcast the proceedings of the new Inquiry?
Yes. Details of the ruling by Commissioner Davies made on 8 September 2005 are available here.
How can I find out what is going on at the Inquiry?
This is a public inquiry, being conducted at the public expense. Accordingly, to the fullest extent possible, the progress of the Inquiry will be accessible to the media, and to the general public. Details are available on this website of:
Public sittings of the Commission of Inquiry
Where can I find legislation relevant to the Inquiry?
How much will the Inquiry cost?
When the former Bundaberg Hospital Commission of Inquiry was announced, Premier Peter Beattie foreshadowed an estimated total cost of $5 million to $6 million for the Inquiry, together with a parallel major review of Queensland Health's administration, management and performance systems headed by Mr Peter Forster.
How long will the Inquiry take?
The Government has requested a final report by 30 November 2005. Whilst this date can be extended if necessary, the new Commission of Inquiry continues to work towards finalising its task both within time and within budget.
*apart from criminal proceedings relating to perjury (giving of false evidence), judicial corruption, fabricating evidence, corruption of witnesses, deceiving witnesses, destroying evidence or preventing witnesses from attending.