Media Releases

Rebecca White MP | Labor Member for Lyons

  • Labor proud to raise concerns on behalf of sick workers, patients and staff
  • Ferguson grandstanding while mould remains an issue
  • Labor will not apologise for raising genuine concerns

Labor welcomes news that Worksafe Tasmania has ruled out an illness cluster for workers at the Royal Hobart Hospital due to mould infestations.

“It was the Labor Party that raised serious and valid concerns about potential mould-related illnesses after being contacted by workers, and their parents, who fell sick after working in mouldy rooms and buildings at the hospital,” Shadow Health Minister Rebecca White said.

“It is the height of arrogance for Michael Ferguson to be crowing about the WorkSafe report when the overriding issue – the mould itself growing at Tasmania’s largest hospital – is still being dealt with and the Royal Hobart redevelopment misses deadline after deadline.

“If Michael Ferguson had his way these mould infestations would have remained secret.

“Tasmanians are rightly growing sick and tired of Michael Ferguson’s grandstanding and pointscoring while mould takes hold in our hospitals.

“Labor will not apologise for raising genuine concerns about mould infestations at the Royal Hobart Hospital on behalf of Tasmanian construction workers, health professionals and patients.”

  • RTI reveals concern over second cardiothoracic unit
  • Minister has previously tried to dismiss questions on the issue

A Right To Information request has revealed the strong concerns of the Department of Health and Human Services over the establishment of a second cardiothoracic surgery unit in Tasmania.

Shadow Health Minister Rebecca White said the Minister has repeatedly dismissed the issue.

  • Pay deal finally reached
  • Michael Ferguson treated workers with contempt for too long
  • Outcome overdue but very welcome

Shadow Health Minister Rebecca White has welcomed the deal struck between ambulance workers and the Government.

“It has taken the Government far too long to treat Tasmania’s ambulance workers with respect, but the outcome is very welcome.

“Michael Ferguson’s handling of the situation was amateurish and he treated ambulance workers with contempt.

“8 per cent over four years is a fair outcome, especially with the inclusion of back pay to 2014.

“It will be very interesting to now see how this negotiation affects future pay claims put forward by Tasmania’s public servants.

“The Government sent a message to workers by announcing it thought Liberal politicians deserved a 2.4% pay rise earlier this year.

“Presumably that’s the new starting point for public servants negotiating with the Government.”

Shadow Human Services Minister Rebecca White said the admission by Tasmania Police that 169 child protection emails were not sent to Children and Youth Services is very concerning.

“Any matter relating to the safety and well-being of Tasmanian children needs to be taken extremely seriously,” Ms White said.

“Quite clearly, this is another error of process involving vulnerable children that should never have occurred. 

“It’s now incumbent on the Police Minister to explain how the oversight occurred and detail his department’s response.

The Liberal Government’s Minister responsible for the release of critical quarterly updates on the state of Tasmania’s public housing and child protection system must explain today why the latest reports are now weeks overdue.

Shadow Minister for Health and Human Services Rebecca White said Jacquie Petrusma needed to either today release the latest progress updates – which contain information up to the end of December last year – or explain what she has got to hide.

“Each quarter the Department of Health and Human Services releases information about how many people are waiting for housing and how many children are in the out of home care system,” Ms White said.

“Yet – like everything Mrs Petrusma has responsibility for – it appears they need to be dragged out of her office.

“The last update was provided in September 2015 and the December publication is now well overdue which begs the obvious question: Is there something in those reports that Mrs Petrusma does not want Tasmanians to know about?

“Minister Petrusma cannot hide from public scrutiny of her portfolio and must release this information as a matter of priority - today.  

“Tasmanians have a right to know whether the government has made improvements addressing the growing number of people waiting for public housing.

“They have a right to be provided with a clear picture of the state of our child protection system, particularly considering the rightfully high level of interest in Jacquie Petrusma’s handling of the child protection portfolio in recent months.

“This is the same Minister that was responsible for 151 child protection notifications being ignored in the north west and a youth in her care being made to live in a tent in the middle of winter.”

Shadow Health Minister Rebecca White said Labor has been raising concerns about the amount of overtime and double shifts performed by nursing staff for a number of months now.

“Rosters need to be appropriately staffed so that nurses aren’t required to do overtime and double shifts as regularly as they have been,” Ms White said.

“The announcement by the Government to cap overtime at four hours does mean that nurses will be leaving half way through an ordinary shift.

“If the Government does not properly resource the roster to make sure that there are enough nurses working each shift this could have terrible consequences for staff and patients if clinical needs aren’t met.

“It could also lead to more cancellations of surgery due to staff shortages.

“The Government needs to work collaboratively with the ANMF and all staff to ensure that staff and patient needs are met.”

Embattled Human Services Minister Jacquie Petrusma's plan to privatise public housing is coming unstuck. 

Shadow Minister Rebecca White said despite repeated questioning, Jacquie Petrusma has been unable to provide any evidence that her idea to give away 500 public housing properties will result in 150 new affordable housing properties being built.

“Labor understands that not all community housing providers agree that title transfer will help leverage funds for investment from the banking sector,” Ms White said.

“In fact, there is growing concern that this policy is ill-considered and rushed.

“The Tasmanian public should be concerned that Jacquie Petrusma is willing to give away public assets without any evidence it will increase the supply of affordable housing.

“If Jacquie Petrusma does have evidence or modelling for the policy she should release it.”

The Liberal Government has broken a key commitment when it comes to public housing.

Shadow Human Services Minister Rebecca White said the Liberals have missed a deadline.

“The Human Services Minister’s Affordable Housing Strategy commits the Government to releasing details about the transfer of public housing properties and call for expressions of interest by the end of October,”Ms White said.

“It is now November and the Tasmanian public is none the wiser about the Government’s intention to privatise public housing.

“The Minister has failed to provide any details about what evidence the Government is relying on to justify the decision to give away 500 public housing properties.

“The Minister has failed to provide any details about what modelling has been done to understand how 150 properties can be built if 500 public housing properties are given away.

The next quarterly progress chart measuring the outputs of the Department of Health is due soon.

In July, Labor called for the progress chart to offer better transparency and change how it measures and monitors the health of Tasmanians.

Shadow Health Minister Rebecca White said to improve how we prevent ill health we need to start measuring how prevalent common ailments are in the community so we can be more effective and accountable for tackling them.

“Labor has argued that the progress chart should include measures against preventable illness such as communicable diseases, tobacco, drug and alcohol-related diseases, avoidable deaths, avoidable hospitalisations and early detection of diseases,” Ms White said.

“It is important that targets are established that encourage early detection and hospital avoidance, shifting resources to this area and keeping people well, rather than spending the bulk of the health budget responding when someone is already unwell. 

“The benefits to the community from an improved investment in prevention include improved health and wellbeing including mental health, reduced or delayed chronic disease, reduced work absenteeism and improved workforce productivity.”

The Minister for Health has confirmed that the Healthy Tasmania Committee, tasked with developing a preventative health strategy for Tasmania, has been disbanded.

Shadow Minister Rebecca White said the committee was set up in February with the task to provide strategic advice and assistance to the Minister for Health on the future direction for good health and chronic disease prevention in Tasmania

“The Minister confirmed that the Healthy Tasmanian Committee reported to the Government on time but since then there has been no announcement from the Government about its work,” Ms White said.

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