In the WA parliament yesterday, National members Max Trenorden told of the “witch hunt” of Michael Moodie, a former senior health bureaucrat. For the last four years Moodie has been in court for two trials and an appeal. He was originally charged with intent to deceive a public officer in October 2006. He was acquitted in March this year.

Trenorden argued: “The charges brought against Michael Moodie were … a diversion to … finish him off financially, to destroy him.”

Moodie was formerly CEO at King Edward Memorial Hospital and Princess Margaret Hospital. He was responsible for revealing unsafe clinical practices at KEMH in the 1990s. Moodie then exposed the rorting by doctors of the trust accounts at PMH.

Neither of these actions endeared him to some powerful people, but his actions were commended by the Douglas Inquiry and a Public Accounts Committee Inquiry.

Trenorden stated: Moodie “saw his role as being first and foremost to the patients rather than the institutions”. He added “that view … was not necessarily shared by all those who presented evidence to the PAC Inquiry”.

And he quoted a Dr Gary Geelhoed from PMH at that time: “We asked if [Moodie] was an advocate for the hospital, and [Moodie] said no … The staff felt he should be.”

Trenorden argued: ” The person who defended patient rights … where is he now? … Trying to recover from four years of purgatory.” Dr Geelhoed is now President of the WA AMA.

Trenorden continued in the wake of this: “Mr Daube  [the DG of Health] offered Mr Moodie two options: 1. Get out. 2. Move to work in the South West. Moodie moved to the South West.”

Trenorden asked: “Why did Daube as Health DG not stand by the man who had courageously stood by the patients at KEMH?”

In 2006 Moodie was moved back to the DoH to be Director of Technology. As part of that role and being concerned at the way a large Information Communication and Technology contract which was meant to be the nerve centre for the new Fiona Stanley Hospital and the Department of Health across WA was being handled: “Moodie found … that Fujitsu … was preparing a tender for the $335M ICT contract. It was not the Department of Health managing the program — it was Fujitsu. This … might never have come to light but for Michael Moodie.”

Against this background of speaking out three times, Trenorden told Parliament that a covert investigation was then set up by the Health Department “to find something to pin on Moodie”. He asked: “Where did [the investigator] get his authority to act?”

Following this investigation, on July 7, 2006 Moodie got a letter from the then Director General of Health, Dr Fong — and stood down. Trenorden: “The letter … was a result of this hunting trip” and included “allegations that … — that should have been — checked before any action was taken. Why?”

All turned out to be false. Trenorden noted “the seemingly desperate tone of the writer, Dr Fong. Was he panicking?”

Moodie’s family life is devastated. He lost his job. In the meantime, the taxpayer has been lumped with a bill of $1 million for the investigations and legal actions taken against Moodie.

Trenorden compared Moodie’s case with another in the west. Moodie’s “misdemeanours even if they had been shown to be true … were minor … compared to lying to this parliament. Yet Dr Neale Fong [when Health DG] did lie to this parliament. He was guilty of that. Mr Moodie is innocent yet is forced with his wife and family out of our state and subjected to almost four years of hell. The innocent Mr Moodie cannot get a job; the guilty Dr Fong is the CEO of Bethesda private hospital here in Perth. Please explain this to me; I simply do not understand.”

Gavin Mooney had worked together with Michael Moodie on one small project before all of this started and has since become a supporter.

Peter Fray

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