Rebecca White MP | Labor Member for Lyons
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.”
Public Sector Workers Shouldn’t Pay for Gutwein’s Failures
Labor Leader Rebecca White today called on the Premier show some leadership and overrule his arrogant Treasurer in today’s meeting with public sector unions.
“The Treasurer’s Revised Estimates Report is an example of the warped priorities of the Liberal Government,” Ms White said.
“Despite favorable economic conditions and increased revenue in recent years this Government has failed to fix the crisis in our hospitals and health system, plan for our future housing needs and still won’t pay Tasmanian public sector workers their fair share.
“The Liberals racked up billions in reckless election spending and now they claim the cupboard is bare.
“It is time those who deliver essential services are given priority by this government.”
Recent Australian Bureau of Statistics data also puts Hobart’s inflation rate at 3 per cent.*
“That means the Treasurer is forcing public sector workers into taking an effective wage cut,” Ms White said.
“Tasmania’s teachers, nurses, paramedics, park rangers and child safety officers should not have to pay for the Treasurer’s failures.
“Premier Hodgman must come to the table in good faith and not put forward a ‘take it or leave it’ offer. He must negotiate.
“Today the Premier must say enough is enough, and scrap the 2 per cent cap.”
Important updates to Tasmanian housing statistics are yet again being kept under wraps by the Hodgman Liberal Government in the midst of the ongoing housing crisis.
Labor Leader Rebecca White said the latest CoreLogic data showed average Hobart house prices have now overtaken Adelaide and Perth and a chronic undersupply of housing is placing increased pressure on renters.
Meanwhile the Government is keeping information about the true extent of the housing crisis hidden from Tasmanians.
The Government’s Human Services dashboard should have been updated before Christmas to reflect the September quarter but there is no sign of new information.
“What that means is that Tasmanians – and importantly those Tasmanians languishing on housing wait lists - can now only access housing statistics up to June 2018,” Ms White said.
“That information shows in June the average waiting time for priority housing applicants was 60 weeks and 3,216 Tasmanians were stuck on the housing waiting list but that information is now unacceptably out of date.
“Tasmanians are right to ask what the government and Housing Minister Roger Jaensch have got to hide?
“It’s crucial Tasmanians be given access to this data at a time when there is an on-going housing crisis.
“We’ve been down this path before with Mr Jaensch when the December 2017 quarter update was with-held during the March election campaign – and then released on Good Friday when the government hoped no-one was watching.
“It is extremely devious and unacceptable but typical of this Liberal Government’s dedication to secrecy.
“Mr Jaensch and the government clearly don’t want the extent of homelessness and the lack of housing availability to be known.
“It’s reasonable to question why updates to these important figures have not been delivered and I call on Mr Jaensch to provide an explanation today.”
With a new year comes a fresh opportunity for the Government to negotiate a pay increase for public sector workers that keeps up with the cost of living.
Tasmania’s hard working teachers, nurses, paramedics, park rangers and child safety officers are among the thousands of committed public service workers who have been waiting more than a month for their pay rise due to the out of touch Liberal Government.
The new pay agreements were meant to start in people’s first pay after 1 December.
But, because of the Liberal Government refusing to scrap its wage cap and negotiate in good faith, Tasmanian workers, who are among the worst paid in the country, are now lagging further behind.
Labor Leader Rebecca White said it was beyond time that the Hodgman Government ditched its arrogant 2 per cent wage cap for Tasmanian public sector employees and negotiate pay deals to ensure the uncertainty did not continue long into 2019.
“If the Premier and the Treasurer continue to refuse to negotiate, they’re telling Tasmania’s hard working public servants that they don’t value or respect their work,” Ms White said.
“In a ‘golden age’, it’s only fair that workers are rewarded for all their hard work – not taken for granted.
“The Treasurer is too arrogant to back away from his unfair and unreasonable wage cap and the Premier is too weak to make him do it.
“Tasmania’s workforce – nurses, teachers and other hard working people – do not deserve to have their wages uncertainty drag on well into the new year.”
Important questions continue to dog the Hodgman Liberal Government over the Adam Brooks scandal with the Premier today refusing to address critical issues.
As Mr Brooks was today referred to the Parliamentary Privileges Committee over the Integrity Commission’s findings that he misled the Premier, the Parliament and all Tasmanians in his business email scandal, Labor Leader Rebecca White said Premier Hodgman needed to today come clean on several issues.
“The Premier has set an appalling example to all Tasmanians in this matter, condoning deeply deceptive behaviour and lying from his Ministers and Members of his government,” Ms White said.
“It’s unacceptable that Adam Brooks, in the wake of the Sarah Courtney scandal, has – despite what the Premier says – escaped any real consequences for his actions and remains in Parliament as the Member for Braddon with Premier Hodgman’s blessing.
“Following the release of the Integrity Commission report, Premier Hodgman has today been unwilling to answer pertinent questions.
“Was Premier Hodgman aware of the depth of Mr Brooks’ deception when he was endorsed as a Braddon candidate before the state election?
“At any time during the two-and-a-half year period this matter has been hanging over this government, did Mr Brooks offer to resign or did the Premier seek it?
“Importantly, considering the length of time involved in this investigation and the level of legal expertise required, how much has it cost taxpayers and did Mr Brooks at any time ask for taxpayers to meet the costs of any of his legal fees?
“These are vital questions the Premier must answer after declining to today on the floor of the Parliament.”