Minister's sister on the attack

March 17, 2006

THE sister of Indigenous Affairs Minister Mal Brough has accused federal health officials of a "destructive smear campaign" against her husband and the Aboriginal health service he runs in Western Australia's remote goldfields.

Carol Stubbs, who is married to Bega Garnbirringu Health Service chief executive Greg Stubbs and works at the organisation, claims the federal Department of Health and Ageing has fuelled damaging "innuendo and rumours" in the wake of reviews into the Kalgoorlie-based service.

The department strongly rejected the claims yesterday.

Writing as a guest columnist in a regional daily newspaper, Mrs Stubbs called for the "smear campaign" to stop, saying the audits and investigations into the service had falsely insinuated that Bega and its key people were involved in fraudulent activity.

Mrs Stubbs, who revealed in January that she has identified herself as Aboriginal for years after Mr Brough disclosed his belief he was part-Aboriginal, claimed the department was "hell-bent on doing their best to undermine and even destroy" Bega's work.

"Government officials never come to the health service to discuss how things may be able to be done more efficiently or effectively," Mrs Stubbs says in The Kalgoorlie Miner.

"They only come with the big stick to judge and condemn and freely go to the papers to degrade a group of people who are all working their very best to see the health of indigenous people improved.

"How long will the indigenous community and the non-indigenous community continue to sit back and watch an organisation and leader carved up by the press and the commonwealth Health and Ageing Department?"

But a spokesman for the Department of Health and Ageing denied that Bega had been singled out, saying there had been numerous reviews in recent years that had focused on the organisation's management.

"The reviews have highlighted Bega's limited progress in making changes appropriate for an organisation that receives large amounts of public monies," the spokesman said.