Rebecca White MP | Labor Member for Lyons
Ambulance Volunteers in Deloraine call on the Hodgman Liberal Government to conduct a review into the potential negative consequences of their decision to make Deloraine a Double Branch station.
Labor Leader Rebecca White said if Will Hodgman had been listening to the community he would know that turning Deloraine into a Double Branch Station would not double the services for the local community.
“In fact, it could see services diminish as the ambulance is used in the city to plug holes in a broken health system,” Ms White said.
“Volunteers at the Deloraine Ambulance Station give their time to help support their local community and they have never been consulted about this operational change.
“Volunteers are worried that they will end up sent to cases across the North of the state which will leave them fatigued and unable to function effectively at their normal occupation. Even worse, it will leave their community without a local ambulance to respond to emergencies.
“I have been told by a number of the volunteers at the Deloraine Ambulance Station that they will resign if the Government fails to listen and fails to protect the community from a loss of coverage.
“Already this year the Deloraine ambulance has been sent to cover jobs in Launceston and Devonport on multiple occasions due to chronic ambulance ramping at the hospital. Each time this happens, the Deloraine community is left without a local ambulance response.
“If the Government was serious about supporting Deloraine, they could make sure there are enough paramedics in the city to meet the demand so that regional crews aren’t constantly called in to plug the holes.
“Volunteers of the Deloraine Ambulance station have today launched a petition to help inform the community about what the change will mean and to demonstrate to the Government that they want their local service protected.
“These volunteers have worked tirelessly, some for over a decade, supporting their local area and Will Hodgman cannot ignore them,” Ms White said.
Will Hodgman and Sarah Courtney must come clean with Tasmanians over cuts to health and hospital services on the North West coast.
Labor held a roundtable with local health stakeholders in Ulverstone today, and despite invitations to Sarah Courtney and Jeremy Rockliff, no one from the Government decided to show up.
Labor Leader Rebecca White said the Government was trying to pay off its $1.1 billion in debt by cutting health and hospital services on the coast.
“What we have seen this week is a Government desperately trying to hide a dramatic downgrade in services at the Mersey,” Ms White said.
“Will Hodgman is completely out of touch and the facts at the Mersey are startling.
“Average wait times for elective surgery are already longer at the Mersey than all other hospitals in Tasmania.
“The average wait time for elective surgery for the Mersey region has increased by 50 percent for urgent Category 1 patients.
“Put simple – the community cannot cope with more cuts to elective surgeries from this Government.
“The Government has also shut all eight rehabilitation beds at the North West Regional Hospital with an internal THS 2019 project update confirming the decision was due to cost.
“This change will mean more travel time for people living in our rural and regional communities which is just unacceptable.
“While more beds have been opened at the Mersey, the Government hasn’t increased the hospital’s budget to meet this extra demand.
“Why is it that Will Hodgman and the Liberals think that hard working hospital staff can get better outcomes with less funding and cuts to services?
“Will Hodgman needs to come out today and tell the community exactly where his reckless cuts are coming from and what they will mean for health and hospital services.
“Tasmanians on the North West coast deserve a lot better.”
Today in Question Time the Premier failed again to stand up for Tasmanian jobs.
More than 6,200 full time Tasmanian jobs have been lost in the past year and the jobless rate is the worst in the country.
Labor Leader Rebecca White asked the Premier why his chaotic, dysfunctional Government had abandoned Tasmanians looking for work.
“The Premier promised before the last election to deliver the lowest jobless rate in the country,” Ms White said.
“Now his expert advice is that unemployment rates go up and they go down.
“Under his weak leadership, full time Tasmanian jobs are being destroyed in their thousands and the Government has no plan to turn things around.
“Contrary to his regular boasting, there is now fewer people in full time work than when Mr Hodgman took office in 2014.
“One in fourteen women working full time last year no longer have their jobs.
“The Premier must stop denying he has a problem. He needs to come out and tell Tasmanians how he plans to turn his terrible jobs numbers around.
“Tasmanians deserve a Government focused on fighting for their jobs, not fighting amongst themselves.”
The Hodgman Government needs to show leadership in addressing Tasmania’s awful jobs figures.
According to recent ABS statistics, the state’s underemployment rate is 10.4%, which is easily the worst in the nation. More than 3.5 million hours of work (to June 2019) have disappeared under the Liberals in the last year.
Labor Leader Rebecca White said the Government needs to do more to get people into work and to ensure those working can get enough hours to provide them with a decent standard of living.
“Tasmania’s jobs numbers are the worst in the country. The Government needs to stop gloating and get to work ensuring Tasmanians can do the same,” Ms White said.
“Our underemployment rate is a disgrace. Under Will Hodgman many of those people with a job can’t get the hours they need.
“This often impacts our lowest paid workers – people in hospitality, school facility attendants or childcare workers who deserve the Government’s action.
“The Government’s failure to grow secure jobs is further contributing to homelessness and the public housing waiting list.
“The Premier should start by backing Labor’s plan for free TAFE courses for key industry sectors where there are skills shortages to help Tasmanians secure jobs.”
A year ago we were told by this Minority Liberal Government that the state was on the cusp of a golden age.
Tasmanians were promised that they would all share the benefits of economic prosperity and good budget management.
Tasmanians were promised that services would be improved and infrastructure delivered – all while keeping the budget in surplus and out of net debt.
At that time, the Treasurer’s words rang hollow for the people living in tents at the Hobart show grounds.
His brash statements were cruel to hear for the patients stuck in hospital emergency departments.
His comments showed scant regard for the thousands of Tasmanians looking for work.
The cry of a golden age with spoils to share was empty rhetoric for thousands of teachers, nurses, paramedics, firefighters and park rangers who were told they did not deserve a pay rise that kept up with the cost of living.
The Treasurer’s words rang hollow then.
And they certainly ring hollow now.
Just a year after the Treasurer promised the dawning of a golden age, he has plunged our state into debt and budget cuts due to his financial incompetence.
Spending on Ministerial staff and credit cards has exploded at the same time the Liberal Government is sending the state into debt and taking the axe to the public service.
The Premier has no coherent explanation for the bloated spending across Ministerial offices.
Ministerial staffing has blown out by 27.6 per cent in three years.
The Government Media Unit has grown by 50 per cent in the same period.
In the year to March, $42,436.99 had been racked up on credit cards by Ministerial staff.
In a single year, the Chief of Staff to Guy Barnett spent $14,846.64 on the credit card.
Labor Leader Rebecca White said the level of government waste was appalling.
“The Liberals claim to be responsible financial managers and yet they are spending like drunken sailors and have plunged Tasmania into $1.1 billion in net debt,” Ms White said.
“The axe is hanging over the jobs of teachers, nurses and park rangers at the same time that Ministerial staff numbers have ballooned.
“The priorities of this Minority Liberal Government are all wrong.”
The shameful hypocrisy of Will Hodgman has again been laid bare with revelations he personally encouraged Mona to lobby both major parties for Federal funding for its hotel development.
Federal Labor committed funding to secure public amenities as part of the development, including a theatre and convention space.
Will Hodgman sat silent as his Federal Liberal colleagues recklessly used Mona as a political football.
Labor Leader Rebecca White said the Premier should be ashamed.
“The revelation that Will Hodgman actually encouraged Mona to lobby for Federal funds is extraordinary,” Ms White said.
“He pretended to support Mona’s development and then he betrayed them in pursuit of a political advantage.
“This is a shocking example of the shameful hypocrisy of this Premier.
“He is a fair weather friend of the tourism industry and he cannot be trusted.”
Labor Leader Rebecca White today called for the Hodgman Government to ditch its arrogant 2 per cent wage cap for Tasmanian public sector employees.
Ms White said “Labor stands with Tasmanian teachers, nurses, paramedics, park rangers and child safety officers who are among the thousands of committed public service workers currently facing a real wage cut from this Government.
“The Premier and the Treasurer have shown time and time again that they don’t value or respect our hardworking men and women.
“In contrast to that, last week it was revealed that many of the Government owned businesses are paying increases above the cap.
“One GBE is giving its hardworking team a rise of 4 per cent this year.
“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 pay offer, and the Premier is too weak to make him do it.”
The Government is deliberately trying to protect the new Commissioner for Children and Young People from scrutiny under Right to Information.
Labor Leader Rebecca White said it was no coincidence that a day after the appointment of the new Commissioner, the Government tried to amend the RTI Act.
“The Government is conveniently attempting to exempt this position from Right to Information when it has never been excluded before, “ Ms White said.
“Can the Premier honestly claim this is a coincidence or is this a deliberate attempt to shield the Government from further scrutiny?
“We know that in July last year, the former Commissioner for Children and Young People Mark Morrissey wrote to the Government asking it to consider including the position in the RTI Act.
“Why did it take the Government 16 months to act?
“We can only assume it is because the person appointed to this new role happens to be the Deputy Premier’s former Chief of Staff.
“The Government has interfered and removed the fundamental need for the Commissioner’s role to be entirely independent from government and free from political interference.”
Labor is forging ahead with its commitment to work with stakeholders across the state’s key economic sectors to create more full time jobs in Tasmania.
The Labor Party today held the first meeting of its newly established Industry Advisory Councils with Daniel Leesong from the Tourism Industry Council Tasmania chairing the Tourism, Hospitality, Festivals, Heritage and the Arts IAC at Perth this afternoon.
“We know that to create jobs, we need to have real conversations with the people who know our industries best,” Labor Leader Rebecca White said.
“That’s why we have established eight Industry Advisory Councils to develop strong, enduring policy for our state.”
The meeting coincided with a tour of a local whiskey distillery, which is eager to attract more tourists and employ more Tasmanians.
“The owners of Adams Distillery at Perth expressed concerns over a lack of skilled workers available in Tasmania for its business,” Ms White said.
“This whiskey distillery has been so successful, the owners will soon need to employ another distiller but unfortunately they will need to look interstate and overseas as Tasmania lacks appropriate training courses for their industry.
“This is a common theme expressed by many businesses we are visiting around Tasmania and more needs to be done to match these skills shortages with the education and training being offered to Tasmanians.
“Our IACs will focus on the longer term challenges and opportunities facing Tasmania’s economy and our people, including education and training.”