Rebecca White MP | Labor Member for Lyons
Thousands of vulnerable Tasmanians in the state’s south will be left waiting longer to receive the care they need due to a massive broken promise on elective surgeries from the Liberals.
During the Federal Election campaign Scott Morrison led Tasmanians to believe he would deliver 6000 additional elective surgeries – but only 18 will be funded this financial year, with none in the state’s south.
In Parliament today, Will Hodgman didn’t seem to know the extra elective surgeries were promised.
Labor Leader, Rebecca White, said Will Hodgman must stand up for Tasmanians and call on his Federal colleagues to honour their promise on elective surgeries.
“The election promise looked like a con job at the time, and the Revised Tasmanian Health Service 2019-20 Service Plan released yesterday proves that is the case,” Ms White said.
“This broken promise to fund 6000 additional elective surgeries follows the Hodgman Health Razor Gang slashing elective surgeries in Tasmanian hospitals by 15 percent.
“There are 9426 Tasmanians languishing on the elective surgery waiting list. We’re in the middle of a health crisis and Will Hodgman is completely oblivious.
“Vulnerable Tasmanians have yet again been let down by a Government incapable of seeing beyond its own chaos and dysfunction.”
Will Hodgman must immediately detail where his $450 million in cuts are coming from and how jobs and services will be impacted.
Labor Leader Rebecca White said it was unfair that Tasmanians were being forced to pay for Will Hodgman and Peter Gutwein’s poor financial management.
“Almost four months on from the Budget and Will Hodgman is still refusing to tell Tasmanians where the cuts are coming from,” Ms White said.
“We have heard from staff that the Royal and LGH will face cuts of around $50 million each, Ambulance Tasmania will lose at least $5 million, there is a 15% reduction in elective surgeries and now we know that nurses are having their shifts cut at Tasmanian hospitals.
“We know that these savage cuts will mean more cuts to jobs and services.
“In some cases, Will Hodgman’s slash and burn agenda is going to cost people’s lives.
“Tasmanians deserve better. Labor will continue calling on Will Hodgman to tell the community exactly which jobs and services are being targeted.”
The Liberal Member for Clark, Sue Hickey, must publicly release her submission to the Tasmanian Industrial Commission to clear up any ‘misrepresentations’ surrounding her ridiculous pay claim.
In Parliament today, Ms Hickey claimed she had been misrepresented over the submission, which called for her to receive an $80,000 pay rise.
Labor Leader, Rebecca White, said the only way to clear the matter up was for Sue Hickey to be honest with Tasmanians.
“If Sue Hickey feels so strongly that she has been misrepresented then she can set the record straight by making her submission public,” Ms White said.
“Tasmanians are clearly angry about Sue Hickey’s demand for a 40 per cent pay rise and deserve to know what motivated her to ask for such an enormous rise when at the same time wages for everyone else aren’t keeping up with the cost of living.
“Will Hodgman can also show he doesn’t support such an absurd claim by blocking a pay rise for Sue Hickey by demanding she withdraw her submission to the Industrial Commission, or by refusing to amend the legislation governing the salaries for parliamentarians.”
Will Hodgman is ignoring the concerns of ambulance volunteers and the Deloraine community over changes to the Deloraine Ambulance Station which could leave the town with less ambulance coverage.
Ambulance Volunteers in Deloraine have called on the Hodgman Minority Government to put a halt to any decision about changes to the Deloraine Station until they conduct a review into the potential negative consequences of making Deloraine a Double Branch station.
Labor Leader Rebecca White said Will Hodgman was failing to listen to the community.
“The community is worried that the amount of time ambulances are already spending out of Deloraine, either ramped at the LGH or responding to other calls outside their region, will worsen under the changes and leave Deloraine with no local ambulance response,” Ms White said.
“Already this year, the Deloraine ambulance has been sent to cover jobs in Launceston and Devonport on multiple occasions due to chronic ambulance ramping at the hospital. Each time this happens, the Deloraine community is left without a local ambulance response.
“The community is outraged with more than 1000 locals already signing a petition calling on the Government to halt its plan and properly consult with the community and volunteers.
“The situation is so bad that hard working volunteers, many who have dedicated more than a decade each to helping their local community, are threatening to quit.
“Labor is calling on Will Hodgman to listen to the community, halt these ill-advised plans and make sure the knowledge of Deloraine ambulance volunteers is respected before any changes to services are made.”
The Hodgman Government has announced in its latest 10 year infrastructure pipeline that it is not planning to invest in vital upgrades at the Burnie Port.
This is despite calls from TasPorts that $80 million is needed to increase the port’s capacity, improve ship loading capacity and construct an international container terminal. Despite the Federal Government’s commitment for ship loading, nothing else is forthcoming.
Labor Leader Rebecca White said that investment in the port was crucial to protect and grow Tasmanian jobs.
“Under Will Hodgman, it’s harder for Tasmanians to get a job here than anyone else in the country,” Ms White said.
“People on the North-West Coast and in regional Tasmania find it even tougher to find work.
“The job-creating potential of upgrades at Burnie Ports is immense, including in mining, in agriculture, in forestry and for tourism.
“Companies like Venture Minerals and Forward Mining are calling out for deeper berths at the Port and better facilities but the Government is asleep at the wheel.
“It’s a disgrace that Will Hodgman is not planning to spend a single cent on the Burnie Port.
“We know the Liberals have wrecked the Budget but Tasmanians looking for a job shouldn’t have to pay for it.”
Ambulance Tasmania staff have been told to brace themselves for $5.7 million in cuts as part of Will Hodgman’s cruel $450 million slash and burn agenda.
This is just one issue being discussed at Labor’s roundtable with local health stakeholders in Launceston today, and despite invitations to Sarah Courtney and Jeremy Rockliff, no one from the Government decided to show up.
Labor Leader Rebecca White said that Will Hodgman was putting lives at risk just to pay for his Government’s poor financial management.
“Will Hodgman’s cuts to Tasmania’s ambulance services are an absolute disgrace,” Ms White said.
“A 5.7 million cut is equivalent to sacking 37 full time paramedics, at a time Tasmanians cannot cope with more cuts.
“In the last week we have had the fire service put on standby to respond to health emergency calls, and on Sunday night, five communities had no local ambulance to call on because the Liberals failure to invest in health.
“We constantly hear stories of people in desperate need of care driving themselves or their families to hospital because ambos are stretched so thin.
“This is an insult to our hardworking paramedics and volunteer ambulance officers who are desperate to be out there doing their jobs but are stuck on hospital ramps or are travelling to the other end of the state to cover another area.
“This is not good enough. Will Hodgman’s cuts are going to cost people’s lives.
“He must come out today and reverse these cruel cuts and apologise to ambos and people already affected by his chaotic, weak Government.”
Tasmania’s ambulance service is at breaking point with the Tasmania Fire Service today put on standby to fill the gaps in ambulance coverage.
Ambulance Tasmania has declared a ‘Surge 5’ which is a contingency plan to respond to major incidents like bus and plane crashes.
The Royal Hobart Hospital has also been at its highest escalation level for the past five days.
Labor Leader Rebecca White said the situation in Hobart and Launceston was utter chaos.
“There were 11 patients ramped at the Royal Hobart Hospital yesterday and paramedics sent to jobs outside their knock-off time,” Ms White said.
“Nine patients were ramped at the Launceston General Hospital yesterday with ambulance crews still ramped at the hospital 90 minutes after their shifts ended, which meant when the night crews turned up, they had no trucks as they were all ramped.
“The situation at the LGH has been shocking today with at least seven ambulances ramped.
“We now have a situation where Ambulance Tasmania had no choice today but to declare a ‘Surge 5’ where firefighters will respond first to incidents if there are no ambulance crews available.
“When will Will Hodgman realise that he has run Tasmania’s ambulance services into the ground and that he is putting lives at risk?
“This system is broken and Will Hodgman is refusing to take this seriously. We need more paramedics and we need them now.
“Ambulance officers are at breaking point. They didn’t take on this job to be ramped at a hospital all day and night, they want to be out in the community helping people.
“Will Hodgman needs to stop saying they are going to recruit more ambulance staff and just get on with the job and get people in those roles – we can’t afford to wait any longer.”
Will Hodgman must finally show some leadership by demanding action from the Prime Minister and other State Premiers on the big issues facing Tasmania.
Labor Leader Rebecca White said Tasmanians deserved better than a hands-off Premier.
“Tasmanians deserve someone who will take the fight up to the Prime Minister,” Ms White said.
Will Hodgman must come back from Cairns with:
“Will Hodgman scurried away from scrutiny in Parliament to attend the COAG meeting, it is incumbent that he delivers for Tasmania.
“Tasmanians are sick of seeing Will Hodgman sit back while Tassie jobs are destroyed and the health system gets worse.
“When a Liberal Prime Minister jumps, Will Hodgman asks how high?
“It’s time he stands up to the Prime Minister and put Tasmanian jobs first.”
Data released by State Treasury has revealed that international exports have gone backwards by 0.3 per cent in the last year.
With Tasmania’s jobless rate the worst in the country, this points to an economy in dire need of leadership from Government.
Labor Leader and Shadow Trade Minister Rebecca White said Tasmanian jobs were at risk but Will Hodgman was not acting.
“Tasmania is renowned overseas for our high-quality products, including our amazing meat, wine, seafood, minerals and timber products,” Ms White said.
“Despite favourable internationals economic conditions, with the exchange rate being at its lowest level in a decade, we are just one of two states and territories to have exports drop in the last year, which means fewer jobs for Tasmanians.
“Will Hodgman was asked a series of questions about support for exporters in budget estimates. More than two months later and he still hasn’t provided any details.
“Last year the Liberals came into Parliament and said the Premier was taking personal responsibility for taking trade to the next level. He has failed.”
“Tasmanians deserve a Government that will stand up for jobs, particularly in our regions – but Will Hodgman and the Liberals have waved the white flag.”
Tasmanian Labor has cautiously welcomed the Hodgman Government’s announcement it will modernise fees structure for parks visitors.
Labor Leader Rebecca White said the Government had followed Labor’s lead.
“It’s good to see the Government recognising the value in Labor’s park fees policy that we announced before the last election,” Ms White said.
“The Premier should now release full details of his new policy so that it can be analysed in Parliament and by the tourism industry.
“Any extra revenue must be reinvested in enhancing the visitor experience, protecting our natural assets and upgrading visitor infrastructure.”