Media Releases

Rebecca White MP | Labor Member for Lyons

  • Jaensch true to form again in unacceptably late release of data
  • Tasmanians right to be questioning what government has to hide
  • Affordability pressure continuing to climb

Important updates to Tasmanian housing statistics are yet again being kept under wraps by the Hodgman Liberal Government in the midst of the ongoing housing crisis.

Labor Leader Rebecca White said the latest CoreLogic data showed average Hobart house prices have now overtaken Adelaide and Perth and a chronic undersupply of housing is placing increased pressure on renters.

Meanwhile the Government is keeping information about the true extent of the housing crisis hidden from Tasmanians.

The Government’s Human Services dashboard should have been updated before Christmas to reflect the September quarter but there is no sign of new information.

“What that means is that Tasmanians – and importantly those Tasmanians languishing on housing wait lists - can now only access housing statistics up to June 2018,” Ms White said.

“That information shows in June the average waiting time for priority housing applicants was 60 weeks and 3,216 Tasmanians were stuck on the housing waiting list but that information is now unacceptably out of date.

“Tasmanians are right to ask what the government and Housing Minister Roger Jaensch have got to hide?

“It’s crucial Tasmanians be given access to this data at a time when there is an on-going housing crisis.

“We’ve been down this path before with Mr Jaensch when the December 2017 quarter update was with-held during the March election campaign – and then released on Good Friday when the government hoped no-one was watching.

“It is extremely devious and unacceptable but typical of this Liberal Government’s dedication to secrecy.

“Mr Jaensch and the government clearly don’t want the extent of homelessness and the lack of housing availability to be known.

“It’s reasonable to question why updates to these important figures have not been delivered and I call on Mr Jaensch to provide an explanation today.”

  • New year brings a fresh opportunity for pay rise negotiations
  • It’s time the Liberal Government ditched its arrogant 2 per cent wage cap
  • Public sector workers deserve to be recognised for their hard work

With a new year comes a fresh opportunity for the Government to negotiate a pay increase for public sector workers that keeps up with the cost of living. 

Tasmania’s hard working teachers, nurses, paramedics, park rangers and child safety officers are among the thousands of committed public service workers who have been waiting more than a month for their pay rise due to the out of touch Liberal Government.

The new pay agreements were meant to start in people’s first pay after 1 December.

But, because of the Liberal Government refusing to scrap its wage cap and negotiate in good faith, Tasmanian workers, who are among the worst paid in the country, are now lagging further behind.

Labor Leader Rebecca White said it was beyond time that the Hodgman Government ditched its arrogant 2 per cent wage cap for Tasmanian public sector employees and negotiate pay deals to ensure the uncertainty did not continue long into 2019.

“If the Premier and the Treasurer continue to refuse to negotiate, they’re telling Tasmania’s hard working public servants that they don’t value or respect their work,” Ms White said.

“In a ‘golden age’, it’s only fair that workers are rewarded for all their hard work – not taken for granted.

“The Treasurer is too arrogant to back away from his unfair and unreasonable wage cap and the Premier is too weak to make him do it.

“Tasmania’s workforce – nurses, teachers and other hard working people – do not deserve to have their wages uncertainty drag on well into the new year.”

  • Did taxpayers foot the bill for Adam Brooks’ legal expenses?
  • Did Premier Hodgman ask Adam Brooks to resign over deception before election?
  • Brooks referred to powerful Privileges Committee

Important questions continue to dog the Hodgman Liberal Government over the Adam Brooks scandal with the Premier today refusing to address critical issues.

As Mr Brooks was today referred to the Parliamentary Privileges Committee over the Integrity Commission’s findings that he misled the Premier, the Parliament and all Tasmanians in his business email scandal, Labor Leader Rebecca White said Premier Hodgman needed to today come clean on several issues.

“The Premier has set an appalling example to all Tasmanians in this matter, condoning deeply deceptive behaviour and lying from his Ministers and Members of his government,” Ms White said.

“It’s unacceptable that Adam Brooks, in the wake of the Sarah Courtney scandal, has – despite what the Premier says – escaped any real consequences for his actions and remains in Parliament as the Member for Braddon with Premier Hodgman’s blessing.

“Following the release of the Integrity Commission report, Premier Hodgman has today been unwilling to answer pertinent questions.

“Was Premier Hodgman aware of the depth of Mr Brooks’ deception when he was endorsed as a Braddon candidate before the state election?

“At any time during the two-and-a-half year period this matter has been hanging over this government, did Mr Brooks offer to resign or did the Premier seek it?

“Importantly, considering the length of time involved in this investigation and the level of legal expertise required, how much has it cost taxpayers and did Mr Brooks at any time ask for taxpayers to meet the costs of any of his legal fees?

“These are vital questions the Premier must answer after declining to today on the floor of the Parliament.”

  • Great Tasmanian business up for sale after 160 years
  • Best of luck to Tim Reid and the whole team
 
Labor Leader Rebecca White has congratulated Reid Fruits on their enormous commitment to Tasmania over more than 160 years.
 
“Labor has enjoyed a long relationship with the company,” Ms White said.
 
“I wish Tim Reid and his wife Debra all the best for the sale process and thank them and the team for their huge contribution to Tasmania’s economy.
 
“Reid Fruits have helped put fresh Tasmanian produce on the world stage.
 
“The business has a proud and rich history and I’m confident that will continue under new owners.”
  • Government must respond to pressure on mental health services in our hospitals
  • Minister saw for himself the enormous pressure on staff
The Hodgman Government must explain what action it’s taking regarding mental health beds in Tasmania’s hospitals.
 
“The Health Minister saw the crisis for himself last night by visiting the emergency department at the Royal Hobart Hospital,” Labor Leader Rebecca White said.
 
“The Minister would have seen staff under severe pressure and realised the situation for mental health patients is inadequate.
 
“What has the Government done in response to a report by the Coroner last year highlighting the pressure on mental health services in our hospitals?
 
“What specific action has the Government taken?
 
“Labor is engaging in health crisis talks across the state over the next month because we are determined to find solutions.
 
“Tasmanians need a government that is willing to listen to staff and patients and respond accordingly.”
  • End of uncertainty welcomed by Labor
  • State Government must support all of our hospitals
  • Devil will be in long-term details of Liberal deal
Labor Leader Rebecca White has welcomed the end of uncertainty for staff and patients at the Mersey Hospital.
Labor will carefully examine the detail of the new funding deal.
“Until we understand exactly how much money will be available, after interest is factored in, we won't know how this deal will keep pace with the rising costs of healthcare,” Ms White said.
“A deal for the Mersey is certainly welcome but we need a State Government committed to providing appropriate funding and support for all of our hospitals.”
  • Treasurer keeping truth hidden from Tasmanians despite contempt threat
  • Health Minister responsible for beds crisis at Royal and Mersey funding fail
  • Hodgman overseeing crises but lacks the will to provide solutions
The Hodgman Liberal Government returns to the State Parliament this week with crises across numerous fronts but no genuine effort to find solutions.
Labor Leader Rebecca White said dishonesty, deception and disappointment had now been firmly established as hallmarks of Premier Will Hodgman’s government.
“The Premier, with the Treasurer, has been deeply deceptive in his effort to withhold a document outlining his government’s strategy to sell the Tamar Valley Power Station as Tasmania entered an energy crisis,” Ms White said.
“He cannot be allowed to keep claiming a letter between two of his Ministers about the sale of the power station is Cabinet in Confidence when it is not.
“The Health Minister has refused to listen to those who know best – the doctors and nurses at the coalface – and that has resulted in a beds crisis at the Royal Hobart Hospital which is now so serious and dangerous it needs to be examined before a Parliamentary Inquiry.
“Michael Ferguson has failed to lobby his colleagues in Canberra to get a deal for the Mersey which has rightly angered medical staff and the community.
“The child protection system remains in crisis and continues to fail on Jacquie Petrusma’s watch.
“On top of each of these crises, Mr Hodgman’s government cares so little about every day Tasmanian workers that it did not even provide a submission to Fair Work Australia to help save their penalty rates – and it continues to fail by not calling out the Turnbull Government.
“The government in all of its deception and dishonesty needs to be called out and Labor will continue to hold Mr Hodgman and his Ministers to account.”
 
  • Shane Broad elected to replace Bryan Green   
  • Braddon will have a strong Labor voice in the lower house
  • Dr Broad will play a big role in the Labor team
 
Labor Leader Rebecca White has congratulated Labor’s Shane Broad on his victory in the Braddon recount.
 
“Shane Broad will be a terrific replacement for Bryan Green in Braddon,” Ms White said.
 
“It’s great that the people of Braddon will have a strong Labor voice representing them in the lower house.
 
“We are very much looking forward to welcoming Shane into the Labor team and it’s a sitting week in Parliament so he’ll be straight into the action.
 
“Shane brings a wealth of skills to politics after a distinguished working life in agriculture.
 
“He’s an intelligent, hard working person who’ll have an important role to play as Labor prepares for the next election.
 
“I’d also like to pass on my best wishes to Brenton Best.
 
“Brenton was a Labor member of Parliament for 18 years and has always been passionate for the people of Braddon. I wish him all the best for the future.”
  • Minister re-announces beds that already exist as deceit continues
  • Launceston General Hospital beds “opened” today already in use
  • Minister continues to mislead Tasmanians and badly let down medical staff
Habitually dishonest Health Minister Michael Ferguson has yet again tried to fool Tasmanians into believing he has a solution to the state’s emergency department crisis by re-announcing already open beds.
Shadow Health Minister Rebecca White said Mr Ferguson had today attempted to hoodwink northern Tasmanian residents by “announcing” the opening of the 12-bed Ward 4D at the Launceston General Hospital – despite it already being opened.
“Mr Ferguson is pretending the beds he has announced at the LGH are new when in fact he re-opened them in June last year,” Ms White said.
“How many times is this deeply deceptive Health Minister going to re-announce the opening of this ward when he knows those beds are already available?
“These are not new beds at all – they are existing beds and Mr Ferguson’s trickery today will do nothing to ease the crisis in the LGH emergency department.
“He knows that and the staff who are doing their upmost in very, very difficult circumstances know that.
“Mr Ferguson needs to explain how this will ease pressure on the emergency department which has reached an unprecedented level under his mismanagement.
“The simple fact is that an important review of access to emergency care at both the RHH and LGH has been sitting on Michael Ferguson’s desk for the past six months and at the same time clinicians, nurses and other staff were telling him our EDs were in crisis.
“The report Minister Ferguson tried to keep secret reveals that in August 2016 staff felt “maintaining quality of care” was difficult due to a lack of inpatient beds leading to delays in the ED.
“This was at the time Ward 4D had already been opened at the LGH.
“For the Minister to pretend his re-announcement today of 12 beds in Ward 4D will be enough to ease pressure on the ED disregards concerns of staff on the frontline.
“The only reason Mr Ferguson is attempting to swindle Tasmanians into thinking he suddenly has a solution for the ED crisis is that the report he tried to keep hidden has been released through Right To Information – and they will see right through it.”
  • Minister’s claims around “new” beds show new level of dishonesty
  • Ferguson tries to act only after his dishonesty exposed by RTI
  • Minister interested only in misleading Tasmanians and ignoring real crisis
Health Minister Michael Ferguson has taken the Hodgman Government’s entrenched dishonesty to a new low today in his deceptive and misleading “announcement” of new beds to relieve pressure on Tasmanian emergency departments.
Shadow Health Minister Rebecca White said the hospital beds Mr Ferguson had announced after months of doing nothing around the crisis in the state’s EDs had either been promised previously but not delivered by the government, closed by the government, announced earlier but not put into use or proposed by the Labor Opposition.
“The two intensive care beds Mr Ferguson has announced today are the same beds the Liberals promised at the 2014 election – and failed to deliver,” Ms White said.
“The 10 beds he has announced at the Roy Fagen Centre are the same beds Mr Ferguson shut when he closed the Jasmine Unit.
“The seven beds he has announced at the New Norfolk District Hospital are beds that were announced as part of his Patients First package in April last year but have subsequently not been used.
“The eight beds he has announced at the Hobart Private Hospital are the same beds Labor asked the Minister to investigate purchasing in October 2016 but he did nothing about.
“Let’s be clear – these are not new beds at all.
“These beds barely make up for the ones that the RHH lost when the demolition of B Block began.
“If the Minister thinks he can re-announce the same strategies from April last year and pretend they are new he has sunk to a desperate low.
“To add insult to injury, there have been no solutions funded or proposed for the north of the state in the Minister’s announcement today, leaving staff at the LGH wondering whether recommendations from the Report will be implemented or not.
“Mr Ferguson has had the Review of Access to Emergency Care at the LGH and RHH report on his desk since last August.
“He has known for the past six months that what staff were telling him at the frontline – that our EDs are in crisis – is true because those same claims are contained in this report.
“To say he has consulted with staff is offensive. He has not. They hadn’t seen the report until it was released under right to information laws yesterday.
“He has not listened to staff who have been speaking out for many, many months.
“His dishonesty and the fact that he is more than willing to mislead Tasmanians is disgraceful.”
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Rebecca White

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