Rosalie Woodruff MP | Greens' Health spokesperson
During today's Budget Estimates hearings, Minister Ferguson refused to commit to continuing with the Liberals’ centrepiece election promise to make Tasmania the ‘Healthiest State’ by 2025.
The “Plan to build a Healthy Tasmania” policy has even dropped off the Liberals’ website, and its list of policies. All the others remain, with one glaring omission - their election promise on preventative health.
Clearly preventative health is no longer a core focus of Minister Ferguson and the Hodgman Government.
It appears the harsh reality of taking on big tobacco and food industry interests, and his own right-wing colleagues, have subdued Minister Ferguson's reformist zeal.
It was only last year that Minister Ferguson said, “reducing the uptake of young smokers is a priority for the Hodgman Liberal Government as part of our Healthy Tasmania Plan. That is why the Government has put forward a proposal to raise the legal smoking age to 21 or 25.”
Two months later, after receiving heated submissions from British Tobacco and the IGAs, he abandoned his promise to introduce the tough legislation that’s been proven to lower rates of smoking.
Minister Ferguson has failed those Tasmanians who believed he and his government had the courage to stand up to companies that make money peddling products that contain highly addictive toxins.
The Liberals have also stonewalled opportunities to take any meaningful action on the other poor health facts listed in their Healthy Tasmania policy, including some of the highest rates of obesity and cardiovascular disease in Australia.
Minister Ferguson’s broken promise on their Healthy Tasmania policy is no surprise, given his three years of inaction. However, it reveals the extent of electoral spin the Liberals are prepared to indulge in to win votes.