Rebecca White MP | Labor Member for Lyons
The Minority Liberal Government has gagged debate in the Parliament to protect its embattled Health Minister from a vote of no confidence.
Liberal Member for Clark Sue Hickey has declared her position that the Minister should be removed, joining Labor, health professionals and more than 3000 Tasmanians who signed a petition this year for his removal.
“If I was Premier, I would say it’s time to give Michael … I would give him something else to do.”
“I think it’s time for Michael to consider his position. He’s lost the faith of the doctors. He’s lost the faith of the nurses. There’s not a lot of faith in the Parliament. He just stands up every day and says thanks for this report… He can’t keep glossing over this. This is a serious issue. And it probably just needs fresh blood.”
– Sue Hickey, Mornings with Leon Compton, 12 June 2019
Labor Leader Rebecca White said this meant Mr Ferguson would be unlikely to survive a no confidence motion.
“The Liberals will do anything to avoid a vote in the Parliament, because they know that they will lose and Minister Ferguson will have to go,” Ms White said.
“If the Liberals had confidence in Michael Ferguson they would allow a proper debate and vote.
“Tasmanians have lost confidence in Michael Ferguson, health professionals and patients have lost confidence in Michael Ferguson and it is only a desperate and divided minority Liberal Government which is preventing the Parliament from formally declaring it too has no confidence in Michael Ferguson.
“Michael Ferguson can’t run from scrutiny forever.”
Health Minister Michael Ferguson is failing vulnerable young people by blatantly misleading Tasmanians about the development of so called ‘dedicated’ adolescent mental health units in Launceston and Hobart.
In a Media Release dated 30 May, the Health Minister stated:
“To be clear - the K block facility is designed and built as a dedicated Adolescent Mental Health Unit, and the Ward 4K Redevelopment will provide a new 36-bed contemporary facility, which will include Tasmania’s first dedicated Adolescent Mental Health Unit.”
However, the Minister has now admitted that not all of the beds in these ‘dedicated’ adolescent mental health units would be exclusively for mental health patients.
Labor Leader Rebecca White said it was clear the Minister would say anything in order to save his political skin.
“The truth is that Launceston and Hobart will not have dedicated adolescent mental health units and MinisterFerguson has been caught out deliberately misleading Tasmanians,” Ms White said.
“The Minister now needs to set the record straight and be honest to those young people in urgent need of mental health care.
“We are calling on the Minister to reveal exactly how many of the 16 adolescent beds at the RHH and eight at the LGH will be available for mental health and when they will be open.”
The Hodgman Liberal Government and Education and Training Minister Jeremy Rockliff are failing on a key election promise to deliver desperately needed infrastructure to train future generations of Tasmanian tourism and hospitality workers.
Labor Leader Rebecca White said at the same time less than half of the students who enrolled in hospitality at TasTAFE last year completed their courses, Mr Rockliff must explain why a promised commitment to extend the Drysdale training facility into Claremont College this year had not yet started.
“Work on this critical project was to have started last year and be completed by 2020,” Ms White said.
“But with no progress made whatsoever so far on the $3.5m commitment, Mr Rockliff needs to explain when work will start and if it will be completed on time.
“It’s unacceptable that work has not commenced at the same time this Minister has overseen a shocking decline in the numbers of students enrolling and completing courses by failing to invest in training a workforce to help the state’s tourism and hospitality industry grow.
“Data released just last month showed that while 434 students were enrolled in hospitality courses in 2018, only 202 successfully completed the course.
“Mr Rockliff cannot explain this dramatic decline at the same time the Hodgman Government has set its own target to increase training capacity to reach 50,000 tourism and hospitality jobs by 2020.
“Tasmania needs to be offering training in Hobart’s northern suburbs to allow opportunities for people to get the qualifications to get work in the industry.
“Labor is actively talking to industry and business and our Industry Advisory Councils - including the Tourism, Hospitality, Festivals, Heritage and the Arts IAC – are focused on the long-term challenges and opportunities facing Tasmania’s economy and our people, including education and training.”
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.”