‘Simply amateur hour’: Annastacia Palaszczuk leadership rival Shannon Fentiman caught out in multiple bungles

‘Simply amateur hour’: Annastacia Palaszczuk leadership rival Shannon Fentiman caught out in multiple bungles
  • PublishedOctober 6, 2023

Many suspected Annastacia Palaszczuk would see-off the widely touted pretender to her Queensland throne by throwing former Attorney General Shannon Fentiman a literal hospital pass in making her the Minister in charge of a disastrous health system.

But Fentiman may have more than a wary Palaszczuk to worry about if her most recent performance is any guide.

When she called a media conference on Thursday to announce a second inquiry into the bungling of 37,000 criminal cases by Queensland’s infamous Forensic Services Laboratory the newly minted Health Minister found herself floundering.

She is also the Minister for Women, and no stumble was more disturbing than her failure to know how many of the 37,000 botched investigations involved mismanaged DNA samples from serious sexual assault cases.

It was a fair enough question and the answer of “not having that figure” begged the question of why she wasn’t sufficiently concerned or curious enough to ask the many senior bureaucrats and police within the speed dialling capacity of a senior Minister or her staff.

As the Coaldrake report into the intimidating behaviour of ministerial staff found – supercilious minders seem to have little trouble when demanding directors-general snap to attention.

It would be worrying enough if the failure to know the number of sexual assault victims were Fentiman’s only glaring knowledge void but she was just as clueless on the percentage of the 37,000 cases involving people who had died without any hope of justice since the DNA bungling began in 2008.

When asked if the government was concerned about the flight risk of those suspects who had evaded arrest thanks to the DNA debacle Fentiman could only say “the police had not related any concerns to her.”

Surely, it’s reasonable enough for a Minister to make that very inquiry, given the enormous publicity has given such perpetrators plenty of chances to update their passports before the police come knocking, and flee to a country without an extradition treaty with Australia.

That very real possibility was either completely lost on the Minister, or she simply didn’t seem to rate the scenario as an issue.

She then went on to brush a question on whether the enormous amount of police resources needed for so many exhaustive retrospective investigations would place severe stress on a shrinking Queensland Police Service’s ability to meet the incumbent demands of exploding youth crime and the usual amount of recurrent crime in the wider community.

But surely the worst part of her media conference on Thursday came as she laughed openly at a question about how such a huge number of reinvestigations would be funded.

She smiled and then scoffed when asked whether the $200 million allocated in the last budget for fixing this enormous mess was in fact enough.

An incongruous giggle was her response when confronted with a simple mathematical equation that each of the 37,000 cases would receive a meagre average of $5,405.

Maybe Annastacia Palaszczuk was laughing too – at how such a Minister could even begin to entertain the idea that she’d be sharp enough to take on the top job. Labor is well known for its professional politicians. This performance from an aspirant was far from her finest hour in public office. It was simply amateur hour.


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