Media Releases

Rebecca White MP | Labor Member for Lyons

Human Services Minister Jacquie Petrusma has been caught out manipulating child protection statistics to suit the Liberals’ political needs.

Last month in the midst of the ignored child protection notifications crisis, the Minister claimed caseloads on the North West Coast were lower than in other regions, now she is trying the same trick when discussing the North.


“I am advised there are more staff and fewer cases allocated per worker in the North-West than other regions,” (Jacquie Petrusma, 17th August 2015)


“The particular claims they make today are again wrong - in fact, the caseload in the North is the lowest in the state, at an average of 12 cases per worker.” (Jacquie Petrusma, 29th September 2015)


Shadow Human Services Minister Rebecca White said Ms Petrusma should stop treating child protection staff with contempt.

A Right To Information request by the Labor Opposition has revealed an alarming number of elective surgeries continue to be cancelled.

Tasmanian hospitals were forced to cancel 3061 surgeries in the year ending June 2015.

In the North West, 645 surgeries were cancelled at the Mersey and North West Regional hospitals.

1087 surgeries were cancelled over 12 months at the Launceston General Hospital.

While at the Royal Hobart Hospital, 1329 surgeries were cancelled.

Shadow Health Minister Rebecca White said cancelled surgeries remain a serious problem across our hospitals.

Today the Minister for Human Services confirmed that the Hodgman Liberal Government will be privatising public housing.

Shadow Minister Rebecca White said it’s in stark contrast to the Liberals’ promise before the election to not privatise public assets.

“Labor does not support the privatisation of public housing,” Ms White said.

Labor Leader Bryan Green said the handling of the child protection crisis has set a dangerous precedent for ministerial responsibility.

“The Premier has today endorsed the way a genuine crisis in child protection was kept from the Human Services Minister Jacquie Petrusma,” Mr Green said.

“The Premier is basically saying that crucial information can come into a ministerial office and not be passed on to the Minister.

“This sets a dangerous precedent where staff may choose to deliberately withhold information from the Minister and no one will be held accountable for it.

State Labor today questioned the curious timing around when the 151 child protection notifications ignored on the North-West Coast were made public.

“No action was taken on almost 90 family violence notifications and the Government has not adequately explained why it was not revealed when it first knew of it,” Ms White said.

“Was there a deliberate decision made not to inform the public of the crisis because it would have spoilt the Premier’s announcement on the Government’s response to family violence in the very same week?

More than a year after Health Minister Michael Ferguson announced a $23.4 million increase to elective surgery spending, the panel to administer the funding hasn’t even been finalised.

Shadow Health Minister Rebecca White said it’s an embarrassing confession from the Government.

“Right To Information documents confirm the panel that’s supposed to implement the elective surgery spend hasn’t been selected yet,” Ms White said.

Human Services Minister Jacquie Petrusma has failed to take responsibility for her own failings throughout the child protection crisis on the North West Coast.
The North West Child Protection Services Report only goes part of the way to explaining why 151 babies and children were potentially put at harm.
Shadow Human Services Minister Rebecca White said many questions remain unanswered.

The Minister for Health, Michael Ferguson, has given an insight into the blame game going on in the Liberal Party over the crisis in child protection.

During an unedifying contribution to the motion of no confidence in Jacquie Petrusma this afternoon, Mr Ferguson said someone else was to blame.

Mr Ferguson said someone had let the Minister down and Ms Petrusma would have been within her rights to lay the blame at someone else’s feet.

Shadow Minister for Human Services, Rebecca White, said the Government was not taking the crisis seriously.

“Who does Mr Ferguson have in mind to take the fall?”, Ms White said.

“It is patently clear that the witch hunt and blame game in the Liberal Government is well and truly under way.

“This makes an absolute farce of the Minister’s claims that she has taken responsibility for the crisis.

“It shows the Liberals have no concept of Ministerial Responsibility.

“Labor believes that Ms Petrusma has no one to blame but herself for the crisis in child protection that saw 151 cases of potential abuse and neglect ignored.

“That is why we have no confidence in the Minister.”

Human Service Minister Jacquie Petrusma is refusing to say whether she met her department in the three weeks before the crisis in child protection became public.

“This leaves a huge question mark over Ms Petrusma’s handling of her portfolio and raises serious concerns over whether the Minister has the confidence of the department,” Ms White said.

“Why is Ms Petrusma continuing to dodge such a crucial question over whether she met with her department?

“It is inconceivable that if the department met with Ms Petrusma they would not tell her of the child protection crisis.

“It is standard practice for Ministers to receive regular weekly updates from departmental heads to be briefed on emerging issues.

“It is unprecedented that the department would brief unions before actually telling the Minister.

“We know that the Minister’s office was aware of the crisis last Thursday, if not earlier, yet Ms Petrusma is still maintaining she didn’t know until Monday.

“Ministerial accountability is at the heart of this issue and Ms Petrusma is ultimately responsible for this mess.”

Future of the Mersey Community Hospital has again been thrust under the spotlight tonight  following revelations of a leaked Federal Government Cabinet minute.

“The Liberal Government needs to explain why the Mersey was included on the Cabinet meeting agenda,” Ms White said.

“Why would the Mersey be on the agenda when the North-West Coast has been assured the Commonwealth will continue funding the hospital?

“The Cabinet leak raises suspicion over whether the funding deal has been ratified and if the Liberals will honour their commitment to Mersey.

The Cabinet leak follows the tabling of a petition signed by 5621 people in State Parliament today expressing concern over the future of the hospital.

“It seems people on the North-West Coast have every right to be concerned.

“Tony Abbott must come clean on whether there is now a question mark over the future funding.”


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Rebecca White

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