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Labor Matter of Public Importance - Health

21 November 2018
Rosalie Woodruff MP

Dr WOODRUFF (Franklin) - Mr Deputy Speaker, we have been here before and I 
hope we will not be here talking about these issues for too much longer. 
I object to the personalisation of this issue. It is clear that what is 
at play in Tasmania is a structural underfunding by the Liberal Party of 
the health system. That has now been substantiated through evidence 
presented by a number of reports, particularly by the KPMG report which 
the Government has still not released. 

This is a central problem for this Government. Its secrecy, obfuscation 
on RTI requests, denial to provide information which should be in the 
public domain about how public monies are used in the public health system 
to create services that will keep people well for longer. That is what we 
are here for. Our job should be to keep people well for longer so they 
can live happier, healthier lives. Let us not get into costing the 
productivity of a life and all that focus on the value of a person as a 
productive asset in the economic system. Let us go back to what human 
beings want: we want to live happy, healthy lives. 

The principle here is the structural underfunding of the health system by 
this Government. That has been obvious to those of us who looked at the $
210 million that came out in the 2014 state budget that was removed out of 
the health system, $100 million went back in the next year and still $
110 million down. There is no surprise at all that the KPMG report, which 
has been leaked, points to a persistent structural deficit, 'Structural 
deficit at $96.4 million in 2015-16 rising to $100 million in 2016-17.' 

The Health minister is on record for saying numbers of time that the 
figures in the KPMG report do not take into account the spending increases 
in the last state Budget. Show us the figures. Show us the report, 
minister and stop hiding because we cannot make any sense of statements 
you make like that when you refuse to hide the underlying analysis that 
has been done of the structural deficit of an independent auditing body, 
an internationally-respected body, such as KPMG. 

The other problem this Government has, the same problem in another area, 
again, refusing to release very important documents that clearly ought to 
be made public, this time about the functioning of the operations of the 
Tasmanian Health Service executive and the Deloitte report which the 
minister refused to release, clearly because it contained damning 
information about the poor senior management culture within the Tasmanian 
Health Service executive. 

The minister and the Government have undertaken a structural review and 
changed the functioning of the Tasmanian Health Service and that no longer 
exists in the form it was and that is fine. There seems to be some things 
which are dealing with the problems people have been talking about loudly 
for two years beforehand but what has not happened is that report has not 
been released. 

People who care about and are involved in the operations of the Tasmanian 
health system, the hospital system, can look and see whether all the 
matters raised in that report have been attended to. There may well be 
other things which the minister, the department, for whatever reason, 
decided they did not want to undertake. That should be something that 
everyone in Tasmania who is interested, gets to have a look at. I doubt 
everyone will want to read that report -

Mr Ferguson - Let me help you out. A very frank summary of that report 
has been released. I am not sure if you have seen it?

Dr WOODRUFF - Minister, we get summaries and we also get media releases 
from your department about matters that really should be in the public 

We have a health inquiry that the upper House has reported to the media 
about yesterday including the fact that your Government is refusing to 
release two central reports to that inquiry. The upper House does not 
hold public inquiries to investigate a matter and expect the government of 
the day to resist releasing information that should be in the public 
domain. It really is a disgrace. There are some things in health that 
cost money and there are some things that do not. I suggest that being 
open and transparent does not cost anything, especially if you have the 
confidence of your convictions and you have some confidence in the 
department that you are running.

It signals to Tasmania that the minister does not have confidence in the 
manner in which his department is being run. It signals that he does not 
have confidence in the operations that he is in charge of, otherwise, why 
else would he be hiding it? At the end, if the other two things are not 
true, it signals that the minister does not have confidence in his 

If the Liberal Party has particular convictions that they are using to 
choose to run our health system in the way they are, then they should have 
the guts to stand up to their convictions and be open about what they are 

One of the worst things for a chronically underfunded health system, is 
not to include as many people as possible to be able to be involved in 
repairing it.

Time expired.