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Tasmanian Health System Cuts
Ms O'CONNOR question to PREMIER, Mr HODGMAN
Last night on ABC Four Corners, your Government's neglect of the health system was revealed to a national audience with people dying as a direct result of a hospital under-resourced and staff overstretched beyond capacity. It has been confirmed since you came to office in 2014, around $1.6 billion of Commonwealth funding that should have gone into the health system has been spent elsewhere. Tasmania, a state with the oldest population and the highest chronic disease burden, has the lowest per capita spend on Health.
What a difference that money could have made to patient outcomes at the Launceston General and Royal Hobart Hospitals. Now there are further cuts to elective surgery and cuts to staff hours at the Royal, placing patients at risk. Meanwhile, your Government is spending $1.6 billion on roads and bridges. How do you explain such warped priorities when people are dying prematurely due to a public health system made chronically sick by your Government?
Madam Speaker, I thank the true leader of the opposition for the question.
Mr O'Byrne - Really, that is your best joke?
Madam SPEAKER - Mr O'Byrne, warning number one.
Mr HODGMAN - I refer her to the detail of my previous answers and the increase to 32 per cent of our state's budget. We have actually committed funding of $8.1 billion over the next four years of this Budget. That is $2 billion above what Labor and the Greens spent when they were in government. I will not be lectured by Labor and the Greens about investments and commitment to our health system. We have now employed more staff and more beds have opened since we come to government. We have local leadership in place in our hospitals and it is important for our clinical leaders to make decisions about how our hospitals are run. They are the experts and we rely on them and trust their judgment with respect to that and the operations in our hospitals.
This notion that is repeated about Tasmania's GST - I acknowledge our visitors from Western Australia who also have a keen interest, fairly so, in how the GST is distributed by the Commonwealth - and the member should acknowledge; when it was introduced, GST revenue was provided to states with a distribution commensurate with each state's circumstances and was done so in a way that is not constrained or determined by the Commonwealth. It can be used in accordance with the needs and priorities of any state. No part of the GST is earmarked, as you suggest, for any particular purpose, whether it be in Health or other areas. It is not true, as you and others assert, that money has been assigned -
Ms O'Connor - How do you justify the lowest per capita spend?
Madam SPEAKER - Ms O'Connor, warning number one.
Mr HODGMAN - by the Commonwealth through the GST distribution to Health and that has been taken by this Government and used elsewhere when, in fact, we have, as I have said repeatedly, increased the share of our total state Budget to health care in this state.