The Northern Territory’s chief minister and the federal indigenous affairs minister have distanced themselves from suggestions by the NT health minister that Gurrumul’s management is exploiting his illness for publicity.
Manager Mark Grose claims staff at Royal Darwin Hospital (RDH) were either incompetent or had racially profiled the Aboriginal singer when he waited for almost 15 hours for treatment for internal bleeding relating to ongoing kidney and liver problems last week.
He also alleged staff listed alcohol as a cause of the problem rather than the Hepatitis B Gurrumul contracted as a child.
On Wednesday NT Health Minister John Elferink said Gurrumul’s label Skinnyfish was talking about racial abuse at the same time its talent was about to release an album.
Mr Grose said the comments were “despicable”.
Indigenous Affairs Minister Nigel Scullion said he didn’t believe RDH had a problem with racial profiling and didn’t support Mr Elferink’s comments.
He said that from a preliminary look he’d had at the case, “it does seem that all processes were adhered to”.
Chief Minister Adam Giles said he fully supported the hospital.
“The health department and hospital have gone and had a look and made sure Gurrumul was treated with the same level of respect and care (of) every other patient,” he told reporters.
“I think it’s terrible that some are casting doubts over the professionalism of health and hospital staff in the NT.”
But when asked if he supported his health minister’s allegations of a publicity stunt, Mr Giles said: “What I support is the hospital and its staff continuing to provide health and hospital services to all Territorians and all visitors on an equal footing.”
NT Labor spokeswoman Nicole Manison called for Mr Elferink to be sacked.
“Why’s he still a minister? Why has Adam Giles not shown the leadership to sack him as a minister? This is not the first time we have seen John Elferink make completely inappropriate comments and perform his job in a completely insensitive way,” she said.
Gurrumul underwent a short surgery on Thursday and was doing well, and Mr Grose said he expected him to be able to leave hospital on Friday.