Media Releases

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.”

  • Liberals voted unanimously to hold health roundtables
  • Six months on there has been no action as pledge abandoned
  • Liberals not listening, slashing budget as health crisis gets worse
The Hodgman Government has walked away from its commitment to work with all sides of politics, health professionals, unions and other stakeholders to work on solutions to the health crisis.
Labor’s motion in Parliament last October passed with Liberal support. The Parliament then reaffirmed its support in another motion in November. It required the Government to convene roundtables with key players in health and all political parties – yet six months on, there has been no action.
“What should have been a positive step forward for health professionals and patients has instead become a reminder of the Liberals’ complete inability to solve the health crisis,” Labor Leader Rebecca White said.
“Everyone knows there’s a health crisis in Tasmania but the Government blunders on and refuses any offer to help solve the challenges our health system is being put under.
“Those voices are being ignored by Premier Hodgman and Minister Ferguson.”
Last year Ms White wrote to Premier Hodgman offering to work constructively to solve the health crisis, putting forward 10 suggestions including:
  • Staffing pharmacy, radiology, medical imaging and allied health after hours and on weekends to improve discharge processes and free up beds
  • Listening to the solutions proposed by workers at the LGH to solve bed block
  • Immediately addressing the annual $100 million black hole in health identified in the Government’s own report
  • Releasing crucial reports into the health system by KPMG and Deloitte
  • Dramatically ramping up preventative health measures and programs
  • Invest in 10 mother and baby unit beds statewide
  • Provide funding for capital works at Millbrook Rise to provide a step-down mental health facility
  • Appoint permanent psychiatric emergency nurses statewide
“The Liberals’ health crisis has only gotten worse over the past 12 months,” Ms White said.
“The 2018-19 Budget contained $111 million less for health and hospitals than was spent in the previous financial year.
“Premier Hodgman and Minister Ferguson are not listening and continue to underfund health – and it is Tasmanian patients and their families who are suffering.”
  • 12 months on, the Hodgman Liberal Government is failing Tasmanians
  • Not all Tasmanians are sharing in the ‘Golden Age’
  • Labor’s vision will ensure nobody gets left behind
Twelve months since the election, the Hodgman Liberal Government has failed to make the lives of Tasmanians better.
In her State of the State Reply in Parliament today, Labor Leader, Rebecca White, detailed her vision for Tasmania.
“I see so much potential being squandered by this do-nothing government,” Ms White said.
“For many Tasmanians, this is not the ‘Golden Age’ they were promised. Looking back over the past 12 months people will struggle to find examples of what the government actually achieved to make the lives of Tasmanians better.
“My vision is for a Tasmania that is prosperous enough to provide opportunities for all and small enough that no one gets left behind.
“Tasmania deserves a Government and a future where growing inequality is tackled thoughtfully and meaningfully.
“A future where underemployment and insecure work is acknowledged and Government, business and community can come together to find solutions.
“A future where essential public services are available for everyone, where ideas and innovation are encouraged and celebrated and our economy can provide enough employment for each person seeking a job and they are paid appropriately in recognition of their value.
“Labor is determined to deliver a fairness agenda; better access to hospitals and health care; training pathways to employment; investment in infrastructure to support housing and transport; action on climate change and investment in renewable energy and a balanced budget that gives confidence to business and supports sustainable economic development.
“We are fired up and ready because we know there is no more important job than looking after our state, our community and our children’s future.
“We are going to hold this tired Liberal Government to account every day, because Tasmanians cannot afford another year of failure.
“Tasmanians demands and expect better than this and the Labor party is ready to step up and deliver.”
  • A strategic approach will ensure the viability of the tourism industry
  • Tourists should make a greater contribution to protect Tasmania’s unique places
The Hodgman Liberal Government must be more strategic in managing growth in tourism to ensure the viability of the industry and Tasmania’s natural environment.
Labor Leader, Rebecca White, said anticipated growth in visitor numbers would place increasing pressure on Tasmania’s existing visitor services and our ageing tourism infrastructure.
“Tasmania’s reputation as a ‘must see’ visitor destination continues to gain global recognition and by 2020 our state can expect to welcome 1.5 million visitors."
“We need to ensure we are ready for this growth and Labor’s long-term Regional Tourism Strategy is a solid framework for the future."
“To that end, I would encourage the Government to adopt Labor’s policy to restructure entry fees to our iconic national parks and reserves to ensure the cost matches the true value of the experience."
“Labor wants to see visitors make a greater contribution to protect the things that make our state unique and special."
“This should include investigation of a tiered fee structure for our three most popular parks, with higher fees during times of peak demand, along with a reduction in the price of an annual entry pass for all Tasmanians."
“The proceeds should be reinvested to protect our biosecurity defences and upgrade visitor infrastructure.”

Public Sector Workers Shouldn’t Pay for Gutwein’s Failures

  • Premier Hodgman must force the Treasurer to abandon arrogant wage cap
  • Treasurer has failed to control reckless election spending 
  • Public sector workers deserve a fair pay rise

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.”


  • Jaensch true to form again in unacceptably late release of data
  • Tasmanians right to be questioning what government has to hide
  • Affordability pressure continuing to climb

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.”

  • New year brings a fresh opportunity for pay rise negotiations
  • It’s time the Liberal Government ditched its arrogant 2 per cent wage cap
  • Public sector workers deserve to be recognised for their hard work

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.”

  • Did taxpayers foot the bill for Adam Brooks’ legal expenses?
  • Did Premier Hodgman ask Adam Brooks to resign over deception before election?
  • Brooks referred to powerful Privileges Committee

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.”

  • Great Tasmanian business up for sale after 160 years
  • Best of luck to Tim Reid and the whole team
Labor Leader Rebecca White has congratulated Reid Fruits on their enormous commitment to Tasmania over more than 160 years.
“Labor has enjoyed a long relationship with the company,” Ms White said.
“I wish Tim Reid and his wife Debra all the best for the sale process and thank them and the team for their huge contribution to Tasmania’s economy.
“Reid Fruits have helped put fresh Tasmanian produce on the world stage.
“The business has a proud and rich history and I’m confident that will continue under new owners.”
Rebecca's Facebook link
Rebecca's Twitter link
Rebecca's Volunteer link
Rebecca's Contact link
Rebecca White

Authorised by Lindsay White, 276 Masons Road, Nugent, 7172