Rebecca White MP | Labor Member for Lyons
The Minority Liberal Government has gagged debate in the Parliament to protect its embattled Health Minister from a vote of no confidence.
Liberal Member for Clark Sue Hickey has declared her position that the Minister should be removed, joining Labor, health professionals and more than 3000 Tasmanians who signed a petition this year for his removal.
“If I was Premier, I would say it’s time to give Michael … I would give him something else to do.”
“I think it’s time for Michael to consider his position. He’s lost the faith of the doctors. He’s lost the faith of the nurses. There’s not a lot of faith in the Parliament. He just stands up every day and says thanks for this report… He can’t keep glossing over this. This is a serious issue. And it probably just needs fresh blood.”
– Sue Hickey, Mornings with Leon Compton, 12 June 2019
Labor Leader Rebecca White said this meant Mr Ferguson would be unlikely to survive a no confidence motion.
“The Liberals will do anything to avoid a vote in the Parliament, because they know that they will lose and Minister Ferguson will have to go,” Ms White said.
“If the Liberals had confidence in Michael Ferguson they would allow a proper debate and vote.
“Tasmanians have lost confidence in Michael Ferguson, health professionals and patients have lost confidence in Michael Ferguson and it is only a desperate and divided minority Liberal Government which is preventing the Parliament from formally declaring it too has no confidence in Michael Ferguson.
“Michael Ferguson can’t run from scrutiny forever.”
Health Minister Michael Ferguson is failing vulnerable young people by blatantly misleading Tasmanians about the development of so called ‘dedicated’ adolescent mental health units in Launceston and Hobart.
In a Media Release dated 30 May, the Health Minister stated:
“To be clear - the K block facility is designed and built as a dedicated Adolescent Mental Health Unit, and the Ward 4K Redevelopment will provide a new 36-bed contemporary facility, which will include Tasmania’s first dedicated Adolescent Mental Health Unit.”
However, the Minister has now admitted that not all of the beds in these ‘dedicated’ adolescent mental health units would be exclusively for mental health patients.
Labor Leader Rebecca White said it was clear the Minister would say anything in order to save his political skin.
“The truth is that Launceston and Hobart will not have dedicated adolescent mental health units and MinisterFerguson has been caught out deliberately misleading Tasmanians,” Ms White said.
“The Minister now needs to set the record straight and be honest to those young people in urgent need of mental health care.
“We are calling on the Minister to reveal exactly how many of the 16 adolescent beds at the RHH and eight at the LGH will be available for mental health and when they will be open.”
The Hodgman Liberal Government and Education and Training Minister Jeremy Rockliff are failing on a key election promise to deliver desperately needed infrastructure to train future generations of Tasmanian tourism and hospitality workers.
Labor Leader Rebecca White said at the same time less than half of the students who enrolled in hospitality at TasTAFE last year completed their courses, Mr Rockliff must explain why a promised commitment to extend the Drysdale training facility into Claremont College this year had not yet started.
“Work on this critical project was to have started last year and be completed by 2020,” Ms White said.
“But with no progress made whatsoever so far on the $3.5m commitment, Mr Rockliff needs to explain when work will start and if it will be completed on time.
“It’s unacceptable that work has not commenced at the same time this Minister has overseen a shocking decline in the numbers of students enrolling and completing courses by failing to invest in training a workforce to help the state’s tourism and hospitality industry grow.
“Data released just last month showed that while 434 students were enrolled in hospitality courses in 2018, only 202 successfully completed the course.
“Mr Rockliff cannot explain this dramatic decline at the same time the Hodgman Government has set its own target to increase training capacity to reach 50,000 tourism and hospitality jobs by 2020.
“Tasmania needs to be offering training in Hobart’s northern suburbs to allow opportunities for people to get the qualifications to get work in the industry.
“Labor is actively talking to industry and business and our Industry Advisory Councils - including the Tourism, Hospitality, Festivals, Heritage and the Arts IAC – are focused on the long-term challenges and opportunities facing Tasmania’s economy and our people, including education and training.”
Labor will launch a grants program to assist businesses upgrade their trade waste infrastructure and prevent them closing down.
Labor Leader Rebecca White said the $5 million grants program would prevent businesses and jobs throughout Tasmanian going down the drain.
“Small businesses employ tens of thousands of Tasmanians but many of them are facing up-front costs of up to $30,000 to comply with new trade waste requirements,” Ms White said.
“At the same time community groups and sports clubs, most of which are staffed by volunteers, have no idea where they will source money for the compulsory installation of grease traps.
“This is simply unaffordable for too many of them.
“A number of small business owners are so concerned they say they are considering walking away rather than taking out loans to pay for new equipment.
“The effect on mum and dad businesses is so serious the Chair of TasWater recently wrote to Labor asking for our help to find an urgent solution.”
“It is important to note that the expense of complying with environmental regulations also jeopardises the viability of many smaller commercial operations like local bakeries, cafes or hairdressers who, though small, collectively employ just as many people in Tasmania, especially in our regions.”
Letter from TasWater Chair Dr Stephen Gumley
“It’s been two years since the Treasurer Peter Gutwein promised to fix the issue when the State Government took over TasWater but nothing has been done,” Ms White said.
“Two years ago the Treasurer said the trade waste issue was having a ‘devastating impact’ and forcing small businesses to close but since then there has been no action.”
Ms White said any registered business in Tasmania, including those connected to community groups and sports clubs, would be eligible for grants.
The grants will be competitive and the funding provided based on greatest need and will cover up to half the cost of meeting a business’s trade waste requirements.
Labor’s Free TAFE Policy will mean more jobs for Tasmanians, where we need them.
It is a disgraceful fact that under the Liberals 2000 apprenticeships have been lost.
Labor’s $10 million free TAFE policy will provide 5000 students the qualifications they need to find jobs in our fastest growing industries.
Labor Leader Rebecca White said Tasmania’s TAFE system should be the training engine room of the economy, driving qualifications and employment.
“Labor will rebuild TAFE,” Ms White said.
“TAFE training has the capacity to be delivered in our regions as well as our cities and should be working seamlessly with industry to identify skills gaps and tailor training to meet the need.
“When Tasmanians hear stories about tradies flying in from the mainland or overseas to work at the Royal Hobart Hospital they ask why they couldn’t get that job.”
Labor will provide free TAFE courses across the building and construction, hospitality, aged care and disability services sectors.
“This means jobs for Tasmanians and a boost for our businesses,” Ms White said.
Labor will also mandate that apprentices and trainees undertake at least 20 per cent of labour on government building and construction contracts.
This policy will also apply to the civil construction industry.
Ms White said we should maximise the return on government projects for all Tasmanians.
“Tasmanians looking for work should get the first chance at an apprenticeship or traineeship,” Ms White said.
Labor Leader Rebecca White has called on Health Minister Michael Ferguson to come clean on whether he received the damning Auditor-General’s report into Tasmania’s health crisis before this year’s Budget.
Minister Ferguson refused to answer the question in Parliament today and needs to confess immediately.
The Health Minister’s refusal to answer comes as it was reported that the health budget could be cut by up to $160 million.
“If Michael Ferguson was aware of the report before the Budget and still accepted cuts to health spending, then he is an even worse Health Minister than we thought he was,” Ms White said.
“The Auditor-General has called for urgent action which must be implemented.
“The Auditor-General has reinforced what Labor has been saying for years – Tasmania has a health crisis.”
The Liberals have used their numbers to prevent debate of Parliament’s confidence in the Health Minister.
The Auditor-General’s damning report into the health crisis has laid bare the collapse of health services under Michael Ferguson.
For a motion of no confidence to be debated, it must be agreed to by a two-thirds majority of Parliament, which the Liberals did not allow because they cannot guarantee Michael Ferguson will survive the vote.
“This is chaotic minority government in action,” Labor Leader Rebecca White said.
“The Liberals finally know that Michael Ferguson is a lost cause and are now running a protection racket to avoid a vote on the floor of the house.
“If the Liberals had any confidence in this failed Health Minister they would have argued their defence of him in Parliament. Instead they used their numbers to avoid the debate.
“The fact is Michael Ferguson needs to be sacked by the Premier but Will Hodgman is too weak to act.”