Dr WOODRUFF question to PREMIER, Mr HODGMAN
It is surprising the Minister for Health is not here in parliament, today. It is an unfortunate coincidence with the front-page headlines in the newspaper, but my question stands just as well to the Premier because he is in charge. The Premier is in charge. He is responsible. It is on his head.
News from yesterday's coronial inquest into a suffering man's death by suicide at the Royal Hobart Hospital is shocking. Even people normalised to hearing stories of the harsh conditions in the emergency department would have been horrified at the evidence of your Government's mismanagement. The Coroner heard that 1800 patients waited more than 24 hours in the ED last year before being given a ward bed, compared to only two people in all four of Melbourne's largest hospitals. The Chief Psychiatrist reported that the working environment at the hospital is so poor that psychiatric nurses will not even apply for vacant positions. After five and a half years under your helm, you can no longer pretend the Royal Hobart Hospital emergency department is okay and things will be fixed when the new hospital opens. What are you going to do to fix this catastrophic failure of responsibility to care for sick Tasmanians?
Madam Speaker, I thank the member for the question. I note the cheap shot to open it. The minister has not scheduled this meeting. It is scheduled by the national health ministers' council, which is the peak national forum in which to discuss important health priorities for each state and territory and the Commonwealth. To suggest the minister is doing anything other than working on our health system at this important forum is ridiculous and it shows the lack of depth in what the Opposition offer.
For those who write about and those who have an interest in commentating on what we do, perhaps they might reflect on the lack of substance that comes from opposition parties when that is the best they can offer - no policies, no alternatives, and no alternative budget in the Labor Party's case - cheap and lazy commentary.
Dr WOODRUFF - Point of order, Madam Speaker, we asked the question. We have an alternative budget.
Madam SPEAKER - I accept that. Dr Woodruff, that is a bit disorderly and it is unparliamentary and they are being used as props. We accept that you have an alternative budget. Please resume, Premier. I urge those in the House to behave. We have some standards to set today.
Mr HODGMAN - It is the lack of substance and hypocrisy from members opposite that they would be critical of a minister attending a national forum of this type. They so often say to us that we have to demand more from the Commonwealth, that we have to fight for our state. When we do it, they complain about it. That is not helping improve our health system one little bit.
Mr O'BYRNE - Point of order, Madam Speaker. By inference, we have no problems with ministers going to these meetings. We support them and we have allowed the pair. To the point of clarification, in your answer you talk to the opposition parties. The point was made by the Greens. In interjections across the House, we made it very clear that we support attendance at these meetings.
Madam SPEAKER - I am taking that as a point of clarification. Thank you very much and I think the point was made. Please proceed, Premier.
Dr Woodruff - What are you going to do to fix the catastrophic failure? That is the question.
Madam SPEAKER - Dr Woodruff, I urge restraint.
Mr HODGMAN - We will do a lot more than you and your party ever did when in government. All that I have outlined is additional to the health system that we inherited from a Labor-Greens government. That is what we are doing. Our Budget applies greater priority to the Health budget than yours did. We are applying more resources. We are employing more staff. We are working with health professionals, true health professionals, to improve throughput in our hospitals, to increase access, to work in innovative ways, to change the system that we inherited and to improve health system service delivery.
Anyone who thinks we are not treating our health system and the challenges confronting it seriously need only look at what we are doing. This is another example of the Greens being wilfully ignorant in denial of what we are doing to improve our health system. Is it enough? Is there more to do? Yes. We have always accepted that. Health is a priority under our Government and it will continue to be so. I ask those who do comment on what is happening in the political arena to at least acknowledge that it is us doing these things that did not happen under a previous government. There is no alternative being offered by members opposite.