Mark Bahnisch writes:

Queensland Attorney-General Linda Lavarch and Premier Beattie are vigorously asserting that their action to kill a deal with the lawyers of “Dr Death”, Jayant Patel, for the rogue surgeon to voluntarily return to Brisbane to face charges wasn’t political.

Patel’s exposure by whistleblowers for the deaths and injuries he allegedly caused while working at Bundaberg Hospital led to the implosion of Queensland Health, a Royal Commission, and severe political problems for the Beattie government.

It’s being suggested that had Patel returned from Oregon to face committal in the lead up to the election, the resulting publicity would have been political death for Beattie.

It’s more likely, though, that the real reason why Lavarch refused to agree to the agreement proposed by Patel’s lawyers was a different one. But still a political one.

The agreement allowed Patel to return to Oregon in between court hearings. Lavarch’s defence of her actions provides the clue to why she refused to agree. The heat would have been on her for agreeing to a deal which allowed him to come and go from the country, and thus carried a significant risk that at some stage he might not return.

The perception would have also been created that the Government was doing something akin to negotiating with terrorists. Given that Patel’s alleged malfeasance was covered up by bureaucrats and allegedly former Health Minister Nuttall, any suggestion that a special deal had been done with him really would have been political death.

Peter Fray

Fetch your first 12 weeks for $12

Here at Crikey, we saw a mighty surge in subscribers throughout 2020. Your support has been nothing short of amazing — we couldn’t have got through this year like no other without you, our readers.

If you haven’t joined us yet, fetch your first 12 weeks for $12 and start 2021 with the journalism you need to navigate whatever lies ahead.

Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey

12 weeks for $12