Sunday, November 18, 2018

Pressure Mounts on Queensland's First Jewish Premier, Annastacia Palaszczuk to Overturn Public Hospital Renaming Decision

Bruce Black and Avi Cohen -
B r i s b a n e ,   A u s t r a l i a - 

Queensland's First Jewish Premier
Annastacia Palaszczuk

As Australia's Queensland government pushes ahead with controversial moves to rebrand the Lady Cilento Children’s Hospital, pressure continues to mount on Queensland's first Jewish Premier, Annastacia Palaszczuk to put an end to the name change debacle.

Premier Palaszczuk is not only pulling down another professional woman, literally tearing down her name from a public building. But she is attacking another women of Jewish heritage who was an outstanding pioneer in her field. Lady Cilento was not just the only woman to graduate as a doctor in her class of 1918 at Adelaide University but she was one of the first women of Jewish descent to do so.

Miriam Swedberg-Cilento, grand-daughter of Lady Cilento, says her grand-mother was very proud of her Danish Jewish heritage. “My grand-mother often talked about her her own childhood and the importance of her Jewish background," said Ms Swedberg-Cilento. “Also my grand-father, Sir Raphael Cilento, was the first doctor to enter the Belsen concentration camp at the end of the Second World War and save the Jewish survivors from the cholera and typhoid that was rife, as he was an expert in hygiene and tropical medicine."

Sir Raphael Cilento, Director for Refugees and Displaced Persons at the United Nations in New York, and Director of the World Health Organisation (WHO), achieved international fame after the Second World War for his work in aiding refugees, saving thousands of lives from outbreaks of epidemics in the Balkans and saving Jewish lives at the German camps.

Many high profile Queenslanders and other senior politicians have called on Premier Palaszczuk to stop this tearing down of Lady Cilento and retain her name on the children's hospital along with more than 10,000 people who have just signed petitions to keep it.

Recently in State Parliament, the Shadow Health Minister Ros Bates made it clear that it is not too late for the Premier to act. Ms Bates said it was an “unmitigated disaster” and that both Queenslanders and the Cilento family deserve better.

“They deserve a health minister who puts patient care as his number one priority not silly political games that waste taxpayers’ money. Queenslanders deserve a Premier who listens and acts when wrong decisions are made and it is not too late for the Premier to act.”

Rebranding and building experts claim the real cost will be closer to $20 million to do the complete renaming of the public hospital.

The Lady Cilento Children's Public Hospital
Ms Bates went on to read an excerpt of an open letter from the Cilento family to the Premier, which was published on the weekend and signed by former Queensland Premier Campbell Newman.

She said it was a heartfelt plea to Premier Palaszczuk to listen to the people of Queensland and put patient care before politics.

The Queensland government has come under increasing pressure in recent weeks, for pursuing the name change in the midst of a healthcare crisis.

Just one week earlier, Queensland Health Minister Steven Miles narrowly escaped a state parliamentary motion calling for his resignation over his inexplicable determination to change the name of the under resourced hospital.

The Queensland Labor Government recently announced plans to raid funds from the state's affordable housing budget to pay for the public hospital's name change. Money that is desperately needed to house the less fortunate, something Labor traditionally stood for.

Ten thousand people have signed online petitions calling on the Queensland government to allocate taxpayer dollars to vital hospital services, equipment and staffing, rather than changing the public hospital’s name.

The Cilento family are still waiting for a response from the Premier to their letter and are hopeful she and the Queensland government will see sense.


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