Rebecca White MP | Labor Member for Lyons
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.”
Cassy O’Connor is allowing renewable energy jobs to be put at risk by failing to stand up to Bob Brown.
The Tasmanian Greens’ silence in response to Bob Brown’s attack on the Robbins Island wind farm has been deafening.
“Yesterday the Greens had a chance to stand up for renewable energy jobs – they failed,” Labor Leader Rebecca White said.
“The Greens have a pathological aversion to development, even when it is in sectors that they claim to support.
“Cassy O’Connor can’t have it both ways – she can’t declare a climate emergency and then fail to support projects that will actually reduce our reliance on fossil fuels.
“Labor is a strong supporter of the renewable energy sector and we want to see the Robbins Island project progress through the rigorous approvals process.”
Bob Brown should be ashamed of his breathtaking hypocrisy in opposing the Robbins Island wind farm.
Labor Leader Rebecca White said Mr Brown’s campaign against the renewable energy project highlighted everything that was wrong with the Greens.
“Bob Brown has been traipsing across Australia campaigning against the coal industry, claiming that the future is renewable energy,” Ms White said.
“Meanwhile in Tasmania, the former Greens leader is actively campaigning against a project that would create hundreds of jobs.
“Labor is a strong supporter of jobs in the renewable energy industry. These jobs are sorely needed at a time when Tasmania’s unemployment rate is the worst in the country.
“The Robbins Island wind farm should be allowed to go through the normal planning processes without being attacked by Bob Brown.
“If the Tasmanian Greens truly support renewable energy they should condemn their former Leader’s extreme views about the Robbins Island project.”
Premier Will Hodgman’s leadership has been irreparably weakened by his desperate and ultimately futile attempts to stave off minority government.
Sue Hickey remains a member of Liberal Party in name alone and cannot guarantee that she will not walk next week, next month, or next year.
“Tasmanians talk about wanting a government that has a clear agenda that speaks with one voice, that is not compromised and dependent on political backroom deals for its survival, but that is what they have and what is typically wrong with minority governments. They are compromised governments that say one thing and do another. Their political survival depends upon backroom deals and horse-trading, bringing with it uncertainty and confusion.”
Will Hodgman – House of Assembly Hansard – 6 March 2013
Labor Leader Rebecca White said Will Hodgman’s Government was inherently unstable and bitterly divided.
“Tasmanians are not getting the stable majority government they were promised,” Ms White said.
“We’ve had a fortnight of complete chaos, with crisis meetings on health and housing, an embarrassing Cabinet reshuffle and over the last week the Government have been on edge waiting for Ms Hickey’s decision.
“Today’s announcement changes nothing because Sue Hickey still won’t give the Government her unconditional support and has said she will assess her feeling about the Government fortnight to fortnight.
“The question Tasmanians are rightly asking today is who is leading the State – Ms Hickey is calling the shots while the Premier begs for her support behind closed doors.”
After half a decade of inept management of the health portfolio, Michael Ferguson has finally been sacked.
Labor Leader Rebecca White said today’s announcement was welcome but said the Premier shouldn’t have to have been dragged kicking and screaming to this obvious decision.
“The Premier has spent the last year as Michael Ferguson’s number one cheerleader, as recently as last week celebrating the job he had done in the portfolio,” Ms White said.
“The Premier fought against Labor’s No Confidence and Censure motions in Parliament, he ridiculed more than 3200 Tasmanians who signed our petition calling for Mr Ferguson to go and he failed to listen to doctors, nurses, paramedics and health professionals who said people were dying needlessly in our hospitals.
“But today the Premier finally declared no confidence in Michael Ferguson.
“Today’s humiliating reshuffle presents an opportunity for the chaotic Minority Liberal Government.
“Sarah Courtney must show more courage in the Cabinet than Mr Ferguson did by demanding that it addresses the $100 million health funding black hole.
“Labor wrote to the Premier last year with a list of policy solutions to the health crisis. Parliament supported Labor’s motions to hold roundtables with all sides of politics and health professionals to turn this terrible state of affairs around. The Premier and Michael Ferguson did nothing.
“Labor is prepared to work with the new Health Minister if she is truly willing to listen.”