Media Releases

Rebecca White MP | Labor Member for Lyons

Premier and Treasurer Peter Gutwein could easily have avoided the necessity to rush Supply Bills through the Tasmanian Parliament today if he had not been distracted by the Adam Brooks debacle.

Shadow Treasurer Rebecca White said the Supply Bills are necessary to guarantee essential services in Tasmania can continue to be delivered and public servants including nurses, ambulance paramedics and police officers continue to be paid but the government would deliver them by the skin of its teeth.

“Because the government has delayed the budget until August it’s necessary to provide an extra allocation of funding before the start of the new financial year so that people can be paid and services continue to be delivered,” Ms White said.

“This means these two Bills need to pass both the House of Assembly and the Upper House and receive Royal Ascent by next Wednesday.

“Parliament could have been recalled much earlier but instead these important Bills involving more than $2 billion in funding to guarantee services and wages for the next four months are being debated in the dying days of the financial year and it is entirely the responsibility of the Gutwein Government.

“The fact is the resumption of Parliament was delayed because of the mess the Liberals created with their Braddon candidates in the state election and these Bills could have been and should have been debated much, much earlier.

“They shouldn’t be a rush job. There should have been more time allowed for scrutiny. They are critically important to ensure people are paid, essential services are delivered and work on infrastructure projects can continue.

“The Premier simply did not want to resume the Parliament sooner when he wasn’t even sure who all the Liberals Members would be and who might make up the 13th seat after Adam Brooks resigned just hours after winning in Braddon.

“What’s also interesting is the Premier has left it up to his Finance Minister Mr Ferguson to carry these Bills through the House.

“Is that an indication that Mr Gutwein is going to leave all of the heavy lifting in the Treasury portfolio to his leadership rival?”

  • Better access to healthcare and education under Labor
  • $2.5 million commitment for Pembroke Park
  • Labor is working for Tasmanians to create a better and fairer state

A majority Labor Government will improve health services, upgrade schools and support jobs in Sorell and the South East. 

Labor Member for Lyons Rebecca White said Labor’s Sorell and South East package would deliver better outcomes for the community.

“Labor has a clear plan for Sorell and the South East including improved access to health, infrastructure upgrades and investment into education,” Ms White said. 

“Labor will ensure 24/7 ambulance cover in Dodges Ferry, Nubeena and Sorell, along with providing Community Health Centres in Nubeena and Sorell with 24/7 nurse staffing, access to allied health services, a mental health social worker and a vehicle for non-emergency patient transport.

“We will invest a further $15 million for the Sorell School on top of the existing $27.75 million allocation to ensure all classrooms can be refurbished, a new gym can be constructed, the oval can be improved and the performing arts centre upgraded.

“And we will provide free healthy school lunches at all public primary schools, giving Tasmanian kids a nutritious meal to improve their learning outcomes.”

Ms White said Labor will deliver better outcomes for Sorell and the South East. 

“A majority Labor Government will invest heavily in communities across the state and fix the health, housing and congestion crisis. 

“Only Labor is working for Tasmanians to create a better and fairer state.”

Labor’s Plan for Sorell and the South East includes:

Health:

  • Ensure 24/7 ambulance cover by paramedics in Dodges Ferry, Nubeena and Sorell
  • Provide Community Health Centres in Nubeena and Sorell with 24/7 nursing, access to allied health services, a mental health social worker and a vehicle for non-emergency patient transport
  • Provide 24/7 access to urgent nursing care in Nubeena for the community and $3.5 million for infrastructure upgrades

Education:

  • Sorell School Redevelopment – including refurbished classrooms, a new gym and an upgraded performing arts centre
  • $50 million neglected schools fund to upgrade infrastructure on the priority list
  • 350 more teachers and 20 speech pathologists as part of an ambitious plan to increase literacy 
  • Free healthy school lunches at all public primary schools

Infrastructure:

  • $14 million Arthur Highway safety upgrades from Sorell to Nubeena
  • $250,000 Wielangta Road upgrade
  • $40 million for transformative ‘Parks for Jobs Now and Into the Future’ upgrade of priority regional visitor infrastructure including the Tasman Arch & Devil’s Corner infrastructure upgrade and the Remarkable Cave infrastructure upgrade

Employment:

  • Continued support for the South East Jobs Hub with the addition of Youth Connectors
  • $5 million for the South East Irrigation Integration Program

Sport and Recreation:

  • $2.5 million to assist in construction of a function centre above the clubrooms at Pembroke Park to give all sporting clubs a place to hold events and fundraisers
  • $9000 for new uniforms for South East Junior Football Club players
  • Gutwein’s cuts leave Tasmanians without paramedics, ambulance services
  • Gutwein’s lack of support sees ambulance volunteer officers leaving the service 
  • Labor will recruit 510 additional volunteer officers over next four years

A Majority Labor Government will provide real support to Tasmania’s volunteer ambulance officers to help boost the state’s life saving paramedic and ambulance services.

Labor Leader Rebecca White said after Peter Gutwein’s $1.6 billion in cuts to the health and hospital system over his seven years as Treasurer, Tasmania’s ambulance waiting times are now the worst in the country and Labor is committed to recruiting 510 volunteer ambulance officers over the next four years.

“You only have to look at the chaos at the Royal Hobart Hospital this week to understand the devastating impacts of Peter Gutwein’s attack on health with ambulance ramping at unprecedented levels,” Ms White said.

“As Treasurer, Peter Gutwein has presided over seven years and $1.6 billion in health cuts. He owns this crisis. Yet, nothing he has said during this election campaign will fix it and he has no plan to solve it.

“Tasmania just cannot survive 11 years of a Liberal government neglecting health.”

Shadow Health Minister Dr Bastian Seidel said Peter Gutwein’s cuts to emergency services have left Tasmanians without vital paramedic and volunteer ambulance services.

“In particular, ambulance volunteer officers have been taken for granted and left unsupported over the past seven years, resulting in volunteers leaving the service,” Dr Seidel said.

“We need a genuine commitment to support and recruit volunteer ambulance officers in all of our regional areas.

“Labor will provide an additional $5.1 million to recruit 510 volunteers, as well as appointing two full-time recruitment and volunteers support officers. We will ensure that all volunteer ambulance officers are supported with the latest equipment and uniforms. 

“We will also ensure ongoing and continuous training and opportunities for new recruits and current officers through TAFE and fund appropriate equipment and uniforms.

“Labor will start working from day one to improve the health of all Tasmanians, something Peter Gutwein has fundamentally failed to do over the last seven years as Treasurer.

“To solve the health crisis there is only one choice this state election. You must vote 1-5 for Labor.”

  • Gutwein’s $1.6 billion health cuts plunge Emergency Department and surgery into utter chaos 
  • Gutwein responsible for crisis after seven years as Treasurer 
  • Tasmanians cannot afford 11 years of Liberals running health system into the ground

The utter chaos surrounding the Royal Hobart Hospital which has today seen the Tasmanian health system on the verge of collapse is a direct result of Peter Gutwein’s seven years as Treasurer during which he took an axe to health.

Labor Leader Rebecca White said with the hospital today yet again gripped by crisis, the emergency department at capacity and elective surgeries being cancelled, Tasmanians were seeing the unacceptable result of Peter Gutwein’s $1.6 billion in cuts to health.

“Peter Gutwein owns this crisis,” Ms White said.

“Tasmania cannot survive 11 years of a Liberal government critically under-funding and under-resourcing the health and hospital system.

“Nothing Peter Gutwein has said during this election campaign will fix this crisis. Peter Gutwein has created this crisis and he has no plan to solve it.

“And for Sarah Courtney to today tell Tasmanians escalation protocols at the RHH are ‘normal’ is arrogant, dismissive and irresponsible – nobody should be told to accept this unacceptable situation as normal.

“There is only one choice to address this unprecedented situation and that is to elect a Labor Government which has a comprehensive plan to address health from day one.”

Shadow Health Minister Dr Bastian Seidel said Peter Gutwein and Sarah Courtney’s claim that the situation today was due to ‘unprecedented demand’ was a lie.

“The fact is Peter Gutwein has cut funding for seven years as Treasurer and is now trying to con Tasmanians that there is nothing to see here,” Dr Seidel said.

“He has created a disaster and is now, typically, trying to hide the facts.

“The only way to solve the health crisis is to vote 1-5 for Labor this election.” 

 

  • $5 million build commitment plus $2.8 million p.a. for running costs
  • Ten-bed dedicated hospice at Launceston General Hospital precinct
  • Labor is working for Tasmanians to create a better and fairer state

A majority Labor Government will commit $5 million to the build of a ten-bed dedicated hospice at the Launceston General Hospital precinct.

Labor Leader Rebecca White said the small number of dedicated hospice beds currently in Launceston meant there were not enough and people were forced to use beds that could be used for medical emergencies.  

“The current situation is simply unacceptable and it is completely inappropriate for people to die in emergency departments without the dignity and privacy they deserve at the end of life,” Ms White said.

“These people need dedicated purpose-built hospice beds so they can pass away comfortably and with dignity.   

“A majority Labor Government will commit $5 million towards the build of a ten-bed hospice at the LGH precinct and provide $2.8 million p.a. for running costs.”

Shadow Minister for Health Dr Bastian Seidel said the addition of new dedicated hospice beds to Northern Tasmania would free up beds in the Emergency Department and allow patients to receive high quality specialty care in their final moments.

“Tasmanian Labor is committed to ensuring Tasmanians can access hospice services,” Dr Seidel said. 

“A majority Labor Government will deliver ten new dedicated hospice beds at the LGH precinct in order to better care for those close to death. 

“We will also provide $3.5 million for capital works upgrades to upgrades at small rural hospitals which can be used to upgrade palliative care suites.

“Labor’s Health Action Plan will address the Liberals incredible health failures around Tasmania and ensure people can get the care they need when they need it. 

“Labor is working for Tasmanians to create a better and fairer state.”

  • Hospital to be transformed under Labor
  • Commitment to delivering Integrated Maternity services 
  • Only Labor is working for Tasmanians to deliver better health outcomes

A majority Labor Government will always support the Mersey Community Hospital.

Labor Leader Rebecca White said Labor’s plan for the Mersey will transform the hospital into a National Centre for Rural Health and Integrated Maternity Care. 

“The Mersey Community Hospital is a crucial part of Tasmania’s health system and Labor will always support it,” Ms White said.  

“Labor’s Health Action Plan will deliver maternity services back to the Mersey and make it a National Centre for Rural Health and Integrated Maternity Care.

“A majority Labor Government will employ 15 more midwives and nurses to help deliver these vital maternity services back to the Mersey Community Hospital and employ an additional seven specialist doctors. 

“For seven years the Liberals have failed to deliver better outcomes for both patients and staff and only a majority Labor Government is truly fighting for this crucial Tasmanian hospital.”

Shadow Minister for Health Dr Bastian Seidel said Peter Gutwein and the Liberals had decimated the Mersey Hospital and only Labor had a plan to help provide better care and better conditions for staff. 

“Labor’s Health Action plan includes $5 million for capital works at the Mersey along with $2.5 million to help establish Integrated Maternity Care and the National Centre for Rural Health,” Dr Seidel said. 

“After seven years of Liberal Government more than 50,000 Tasmanians are waiting for an appointment to see a specialist and more than 12,000 people are waiting in pain for necessary surgery. 

“Tasmanians cannot afford another four years of Liberal health failures, and Labor is the only party that will back returning maternity care to the Mersey.

“Only Labor is working for Tasmanians to deliver better health outcomes.”

  • Clinics will provide bulk billed urgent care to patients
  • 1,000 visits available each day throughout Tasmania
  • Focus on general practice will alleviate pressure on hospitals

A game-changing plan to make 1,000 bulk billed visits a day available at 10 GP Extended Care Clinics throughout Tasmania will take pressure off emergency departments and help end ambulance ramping and bed block.

Labor Leader Rebecca White said the establishment of the 10 GP clinics – offering seven-day-a-week care from 8am to 8pm - will provide 100 per cent bulk billed urgent care visits.

“This will mean people can see a doctor when they need one and it will help take pressure off hospital emergency departments and reduce ambulance ramping,” Ms White said.

“Too many Tasmanians don’t have access to affordable health care and that’s part of the reason why our emergency department staff every day struggle to keep up with demand.

“Labor’s plan will address that urgent need, particularly in areas like Hobart’s northern suburbs where one of the GP clinics will be located.

“This is a health care package that offers over 100 bulk billed urgent care visits per centre per day – that’s 1000 visits each day throughout Tasmania.

“It’s essential we offer wider availability to affordable health care after seven years of Liberal failure and neglect on health which has seen the waiting list to get a specialist’s appointment grow beyond 50,000.

“That’s simply unsustainable and sick Tasmanians are getting sicker under the Gutwein Government”

Shadow Health Minister Dr Bastian Seidel said no Tasmanian should be forced to delay care because of cost. 

“Our model has been endorsed as nation leading by the RACGP and this is a gamechanger for access to health care throughout Tasmania,” Dr Seidel said.

“These extended care centres will also be staffed by paramedic practitioners.

“We need to look at different ways of delivering health care after the chaos the Liberals have brought to the hospital and health system.

“To improve healthcare outcomes in Tasmania, we need a new approach because too often health policies focus on more hospitals and more hospital beds as the solution.

“We need to recognise the important role GPs play in delivering urgent health care and provide those doctors with the support they need.

“Affordable healthcare in the community will take the pressure off our overcrowded emergency departments.” 

Dr Seidel said a Majority Labor Government would also deliver on upgrades providing 24/7 care at the Glenorchy Community Health Centre.

  • Labor will support organisations to empower communities
  • Labor’s policy funds expansion of food relief through FoodBank Tasmania and Loaves and Fishes Tasmania
  • Increased support from Labor reflects rising demand

 A Majority Labor Government will support the crucial work Neighbourhood Houses and Men’s Sheds do to empower communities and support vulnerable Tasmanians.

Labor Leader Rebecca White said these organisations were the life blood of our state.

“We have seen through COVID-19 the vital role Neighbourhood Houses and Men’s Sheds play in bringing communities together and supporting those who are doing it tough,” Ms White said.

“Labor wants to support these organisations to continue the great work they do and as part of our commitment, we will increase the Tasmanian Men’s Shed Association Grants program to $175,000 per year for the next three years.

“These grants support the purchase of tools and equipment and minor capital works to expand the infrastructure needed for sheds to operate.

“Labor will also provide $30,000 per house for 35 Neighbourhood Houses throughout Tasmania for capital works. This includes 18 houses in the South, 10 in the North and seven in the North West.

“The funding agreements will have the flexibility to allow individual houses to determine their own priorities.”

Labor will also continue the increased level of peak body funding and provide annual indexation for community organisations including Volunteering Tasmania, the Youth Network of Tasmania, Carers Tasmania, the Tasmanian Men’s Shed Association, RSL Tasmania and Council of the Ageing.

Shadow Housing Minister Alison Standen said Labor would also support the expansion of Tasmania’s two statewide food relief agencies – FoodBank Tasmania (FBT) and Loaves and Fishes Tasmania (LFT).

“Demand for food relief was already increasing prior to COVID-19 but, in 2020, demand doubled,” Ms Standen said.

“Since the reduction and withdrawal of Commonwealth income support, the sector is bracing for further demand.


“To keep up with this demand, Labor will provide $1 million per year over the next three years to FBT and  LFT.

“This is in addition to the $31.8 million dollar initiative to introduce government-funded healthy lunches in all government primary schools across the state over the next six years. 

“Our community organisations and food relief agencies make a huge contribution to looking after Tasmanians doing it tough and Labor’s commitments will ensure they are able to continue this vital work into the future.”

  • Labor committed to keeping Tasmanian communities safe
  • Almost half of additional officers to be based in Launceston
  • New police dogs that the Liberals failed to deliver
  • Seven additional officers to fix rural staffing issues

A Majority Labor Government will employ an additional 70 specialist police officers to work across priority policing areas to keep Tasmanian communities safe.

Labor Leader Rebecca White said the urgently needed additional officers will fill gaps across areas including CIB, crash investigation, digital evidence forensics, surveillance, serious and organised crime, cybercrime, police prosecution and training and education. 

Ms White said almost half of the additional officers will be based in Launceston where they are needed most because of an alarmingly high incidence of crime across 75 per cent of the crime categories that are measured in the Tasmania Police Corporate Performance Reports.

A Labor Government will additionally:

  • Maintain the commitment to the full rollout of an extra 125 police officers
  • Hire seven additional police officers to put an end to regional backfill issues to keep rural communities safe
  • Provide three general duties police dogs - one each for the North, South and Western districts - delivering on a failed 2018 Liberal Government commitment
  • Remove police from court duties and prisoner transport in the North West, delivering on another failed Liberal commitment
  • Provide a permanent police presence for New Norfolk with an additional two police officers to the New Norfolk station and a further four to the Bridgewater station
  • Fund police station upgrades, including $7.5 million for a new police station in St Helens and upgrades to the Bridgewater station

“The addition of these extra police will support the ongoing modernisation of our police force and increase Tasmania Police’s criminal investigation capability,” Ms White said. 

“While violent crime continues to escalate in Launceston, police response times have increased by 70 per cent from 23 minutes to almost 40 minutes, making our communities less safe.

“That’s why Labor will significantly enhance front line police resourcing - Labor has listened our police service and will work to keep Tasmanian communities safe.

"Our package also prioritises the mental health and well-being of police officers with more staff, fatigue management and more proactive management of officer well-being."

Shadow Police Minister Jen Butler said current court backlogs are limiting access to justice and to help deal with this Labor will employ more lawyers and more support staff.  

“It’s also crucial we solve rural backfill issues - local police are embedded in their communities and they are often the first on the scene to any incidents,” Ms Butler said.

“But that unwavering commitment to the job also means local police are reluctant to take leave because they know their job will not be backfilled. 

“Labor will address that with additional rural and regional officers.

“Tasmania is the only state that does not use general duties police dogs, even though they are crucial across a range of important policing areas. 

“Despite a successful trial of general duties dogs from South Australia, the Liberals have failed to provide police dogs.”

Ms White said Labor was committed to no cuts in the police service budget or police numbers.

“A statewide Police Service for all Tasmanians should be just that – Labor is committed to a statewide organisation which has the resources it needs to combat crime.”

  • Queenstown hospital will receive infrastructure upgrades
  • Upgrades for Community Health Centres in Queenstown, Rosebery and Strahan
  • More nurses, nurse practitioners, allied health staff for West Coast region

West Coast residents who have been unable to access adequate health care in the midst of the Liberal’s health and hospital crisis will finally be given access under a Majority Labor Government.

Visiting the West Coast today, Labor Leader Rebecca White said it was unacceptable that Tasmanians who call Queenstown, Rosebery, Strahan, Zeehan and Tullah home had suffered under seven years of neglect by the Liberals who had utterly failed them by chronically understaffing and under-funding local hospitals and Community Health Centres.

Ms White announced $3.5 million for capital works at the West Coast District Hospital at Queenstown, as well as upgraded 24/7 emergency care.

Around the clock ambulance coverage by paramedics will additionally be extended to Queenstown, Rosebery, Strahan, Zeehan and Tullah.

Additionally, Labor’s West Coast health rescue package includes:

§  Five new permanent nurse practitioners for the West Coast District Hospital 

§  24/7 nursing coverage with three new registered nurses in the Rosebery, Strahan and Queenstown Community Health Centres

§  New mental health social worker, dietician, exercise physio and occupational therapist positions in Rosebery and Strahan and Queenstown

§  The provision of a health community car for non-urgent transport in all three centres

“It’s not good enough that Tasmanians who call the West Coast region home have not had access to even adequate health care under seven years of the Liberals,” Ms White said.

“That will change under a Labor Government.

Labor’s Health Action Plan will address the root of the problem and provide 24/7 care in rural and regional areas.”

Labor Member for Braddon Anita Dow said the biggest issue facing the region was health care.

“People who love this area and call it home have had to travel to access health care and that is a direct result of the Gutwein Government’s neglect,” Ms Dow said.

“It’s unacceptable that Tasmanians who require health care cannot access that health care where they live.

“It means that the sick become sicker.”

Shadow Health Minister Dr Bastian Seidel said Tasmanians required and deserved better than a government and a Health Minister who ignored their needs and increasing demand for health and hospital services.

“It’s astounding more than 50,000 Tasmanians are waiting for an appointment with a medical specialist and more than 12,000 are waiting for necessary surgery,” Dr Seidel said.

“And it’s astounding we have a Health Minister in Sarah Courtney who just does not seem to care.

“The Liberal government has cut $1.6 billion from health since 2014 and Tasmanians are paying for this irresponsible government with their lives.”

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