These two letters were in response to FOI
requests for copies of my FOI correspondence. I had previously
refused permission to disclose my identity and I interpreted this as
a further attempt to do so.
26 December 1997
Mr A Hinton
Foreign Investment and Review Board (FIRB)
The Treasury Building
Parkes Place Your fax 06 263 2940
Dear Mr Hinton,
FOI application --- Sun Healthcare
I refer to your letter dated 12 December 1997. I have now examined the FOI documents disclosed to me, such as they are! I request that with the exception of the newspaper clipping the letters which I wrote to FIRB not be disclosed. I ask that my writing on the newspaper article be deleted as similar "untidy" writing is on many documents I have made public and it would be readily identified.
These documents would disclose both my identity and my personal interest in health care corporate conduct which is a matter which is of private concern to myself only. NME have fostered a perception in southern states and the USA that I am unbalanced and have some sort of irrational personal vendetta against NME and would not be interested in other corporations. At this time the requesting group may well consider that the request was made by a patient advocacy group which has in the past been active in confronting corporate medicine, or even by the catholic church which is now strongly opposed to corporate medicine. It is particularly outspoken in the USA where any catholic hospital entering into arrangements with corporate for profit entities ceases to be members of the catholic hospital group.. The Pope recently referred to "numerous situations in which the centrality and dignity of the human person are ignored and trampled upon, as occurs when health care is regarded in terms of profit and not as a generous service"
Disclosing this information would reveal my identity. I have little doubt that if any of the for profit corporate groups were definitely aware of my identity they would find some trumped up pretext to mount a SLAPP defamation action against me to reinforce their denial of the information in the documents I have supplied. They would seek to prevent me from legitimately making information about corporate medicine and Sun Healthcare available to those who need this information, and from attempting to open the whole issue of health services in Australia to rational and informed public debate.
If you feel that it is essential to disclose these letters then I request that all sections which might assist in identifying me be deleted. I have marked these on the enclosed copies.
Finally in regard to disclosure under FOI. I find it sad that the commercial interests of a foreign company which has paid $24 million to settle serious allegations, which is under investigation for fraud, and whose obligations are to foreign shareholders should rate so highly. This payment is more than double the, at the time record civil settlement of $10 million reached by NME in Texas in 1992. Sun's interests have been given precedence over the interests of sick and vulnerable Australian patients, the interests of those whose faculties are impaired by age, the interests of the Australian health system and the importance of open and accountable government in Australia. We have the publicly available allegations made against Sun and its chairman. At the very least we are entitled to their detailed response.
The minister has since Sun's approval, announced additional funding to develop subacute hospitals in Australia, an area in which Sun specialises. Parliamentarians were prominent at recent televised opening celebrations for very expensive private Moran aged care facilities, another Sun specialty. I have been unable to trace a single Australian newspaper report describing Sun's 51% holding which gives control of the Moran group's hospitals. My information came from the USA. It seems that these matters which are of great public interest and concern are being done as unobtrusively as possible. Every effort is being made to ensure that those with information are not given the opportunity to use it in the public interest. All this serves to rub salt in the perception that not only does our current federal government encourage confidential arrangements between doctors and companies who have used such arrangements to fleece their customers but, like the coalition government in Queensland it makes such behind the scene arrangements itself. We fear that the lack of integrity and propriety displayed by ministers extends beyond the conduct of their personal lives and expense acoounts, into the conduct of the affairs of the country. What has happened to open government and the promise to govern "for all of us"?
I would be grateful if you would convey these sentiments and the two Australian newspaper reports enclosed to FIRB's board. I also enclose a set of documents describing the pressures on US health care companies and their consequent enormous enthusiasm to expand internationally. The naked greed displayed in these articles is totally inappropriate in a health care provider. I have included among these an article which illustrates the determination of some state health ministers to encourage these same foreign health care corporations to enter Australia. I would be grateful if you would convey the content of these articles to the board. Some of these organisations will undoubtedly attempt to enter Australia. Lest you have any doubt that dysfunctional practices pervade the US system I enclose a very recent article from the New York Times which was instrumental in exposing the situation in Columbia/HCA. Note that many of the dysfunctional and allegedly criminal practices occurred in hospitals owned by other companies before they were taken over by Columbia/HCA.
I respectfully suggest that it would be in the public interest for you to notify me of any foreign health care corporations applying to enter Australia. I am not aware of any legal prohibition to your using available resources in Australia in this way. I may be in a position to supply you with information.
I received advice from FIRB on 31 Dec 1997 of another application for the same information and replied
9 January 1998
Dear Mr Hinton,
FOI application --- Sun Healthcare
In response to your letter dated 31 December 1997 I confirm that the same objections I raised in regard to the previous FOI application in my letter dated 26 December 1997 apply to the latest request.
Thank you for your personal interest. I would like to express my appreciation of the efforts which you have personally made in dealing with this matter. I trust that you will not see the criticisms I have made about the FIRB process as a reflection on your stewardship.