Rebecca White MP | Labor Member for Lyons
Labor Leader, Rebecca White, today met with Westbury residents who are furious about the Liberal Government’s decision to put a maximum security prison on their doorstep with no consultation.
Ms White said it was clear that Elise Archer and the Liberals had completely botched the community consultation process.
“There is significant community concern about building a maximum security prison in Westbury,” Ms White said.
“The community also has a long list of questions that have not been answered – including how many jobs will actually be created in the town.
“Liberal Member for Lyons, Guy Barnett, has broken ranks to describe the concerns of residents as “legitimate.
“What is the government doing to address these concerns, and why isn’t the Premier, Will Hodgman, here to listen to the community in person?
“Labor recognises the need for a new correctional facility in Northern Tasmania but the Liberals have not made the case that Westbury is the only site, or even the best site, for it to be built.
“We don’t know if this is the most suitable site, because the Government is refusing to release the other 9 sites that were shortlisted.
“The most concerning thing about this process is the secrecy and lack of transparency that has become a hallmark of this government.”
On World Mental Health Day, Labor Leader Rebecca White has called on the Hodgman Government to adopt Labor’s policy for mental health workers in all Tasmanian schools.
The statistics around mental health issues for younger Australians are confronting:
“We must work harder to provide better mental health support for all Tasmanians,” Ms White said.
“Labor’s Mental Health Workers in Schools Program will employ a range of mental health professionals including social workers, youth workers and psychologists.
“This will be a real benefit to students in every Tasmanian public primary and high school.
“We are prepared today to work with the Government to deliver this vital policy which will save lives.
“By identifying and treating mental ill health in young Tasmanians we can reduce the number of acute mental health issues presenting at our hospitals and we can help reduce Tasmania’s youth suicide rate, which is among the highest in the country.
“Yesterday the Government announced that it will be cutting $12 million from Tasmanian health services. That’s equivalent to 131 mental health workers sacked.
“Instead of cuts, let’s work together to prioritise the mental health of young people.”
Australian Bureau of Statistics figures released today have confirmed that under Will Hodgman, overseas exports are going backwards.
Export growth was -0.32% in the year to August 2019. National export growth for the same period was almost 18%.
Labor Leader and Shadow Minister for Trade Rebecca White said Tasmanian producers were not getting the full benefits of positive trade conditions while Will Hodgman sat on his hands.
“Tasmania is an island state and we rely heavily on trade to grow jobs in Tasmania and support our economy,” Ms White said.
“It’s unforgiveable that in the Liberals so-called Golden Age and with the Australian dollar at an 11 year low, these export numbers are going backwards.
“Will Hodgman and the Liberal have no plan for the economy besides savage budget cuts.
“Tasmanian exporters do an incredible job but the fact is the Government has not helped them and the data shows Tasmania exported less product overseas than last year.
“Tasmanian businesses deserve better than this laziness and inaction from Will Hodgman.”
Will Hodgman continues to fail hardworking paramedics by refusing to fix Tasmania’s ambulance crisis.
Local ambulance services were chaotic last night, particularly in the north, with the ambulance from Deloraine sent to Latrobe while the ambulance from George Town was sent to Perth.
Labor Leader Rebecca White said local communities were continually left vulnerable when their local ambulance was ramped at the hospital or sent to other jobs out of area.
“People’s lives are being put at risk by a Government that just does not care about regional communities,” Ms White said.
“Will Hodgman is about to cut more money out of the health budget while ambulances are ramped at the hospital or being sent from one end of the state to another because there aren’t enough staff to fill the roster.
“Paramedics just want to be able to do their jobs and help their local communities but instead are under enormous pressure and stress and Will Hodgman is about to cut more funding from their budget.
“We know that 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.
“A $5.7 million cut is equivalent to sacking 37 full time paramedics at a time Tasmanians cannot cope with more cuts.
“Will Hodgman is putting lives at risk just to pay for his Government’s poor financial management.
“He must come clean on these cruel cuts and the impact they will have on Tasmanian jobs and services.”
Damning correspondence released today shows Departments were told how in June how much Will Hodgman and Peter Gutwein would be cutting from their budgets.
The correspondence also shows Department heads were given just seven days to find the $450 million of cuts. The heads of the Health and Communities Departments asked for an extension of time to identify where the cuts would be made, but were rebuffed by Treasury.
Correspondence from the head of DPIPWE shows Minister Gutwein was not even consulted before the plan for cuts from that Agency was submitted.
Shadow Treasurer David O’Byrne said Will Hodgman needs to finally admit to Tasmanians where the cuts will be coming from.
“Will Hodgman has known exactly how much will be cut from each Department since June,” Mr O’Byrne said.
“It was Will Hodgman’s reckless election spending and his Treasurer’s hopeless budget mismanagement that have us hurtling beyond $1 billion of debt. To refuse to level with the Tasmanian people now is just completely gutless.
“Will Hodgman needs to own up to his mistakes and start being honest with the Tasmanian public.
Labor Leader Rebecca White said it was clear Will Hodgman’s chaotic cuts would hurt Tasmanians.
“The heads of the Health and Communities Departments told Will Hodgman they would struggle to find the significant savings in just seven days,” she said.
“Despite promises from Will Hodgman that frontline services will not be affected, the head of Department of Communities said that she needed ‘the time to carefully consider the definition of frontline services and test this with Ministers’.
“The end result of all this dysfunction will be that Tasmanians will have services cut.
“Will Hodgman’s rush to cover up his Budget mismanagement with savage cuts means Tasmanians are languishing on surgery waiting lists, are unable to rely on an ambulance being available when they need one, and can’t get a job because infrastructure projects have been delayed.”
Labor has continued its work to advance Tasmania’s key economic sectors at today’s Tourism, Hospitality, Festivals, Heritage and the Arts Industry Advisory Council meeting.
The IAC is one of several established by Labor in key industry areas to provide stakeholders with direct input into the development of policy and funding decisions.
Today’s meeting was held at TAFE’s Drysdale College campus in Hobart and focused on skills shortages and training as well as strategies to sustainably grow visitation to our state and leverage the benefits for more Tasmanians.
Labor Leader and Shadow Minister for Tourism, Hospitality and Events, Rebecca White, said the meeting was a success.
“Labor has listened to industry experts and we know that under the Hodgman Liberal Government our education and training system is not well linked to the skills needs of industry,” Ms White said.
“Labor’s $10 million free TAFE policy will provide 5000 students the qualifications they need to find jobs in our fastest growing industries with skill shortages – including tourism and hospitality.
“Tasmania has the highest unemployment rate in the nation and the Government must take seriously the responsibility to train Tasmanians otherwise they will leave to get a job elsewhere.
“The infrastructure needs of the visitor economy over the coming decade must also be addressed to make sure Tasmanians and visitors alike can continue to enjoy our beautiful state.
“Labor will continue to work constructively from opposition to advance initiatives that will support sustainable growth in our key economic sectors.”
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.”