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Government Priorities

Dr Rosalie Woodruff MP

Dr Rosalie Woodruff MP  -  Thursday, 11 May 2023

Tags: Stadium, Macquarie Point, AFL

Dr WOODRUFF (Franklin) - Mr Speaker, I move -

That the House take note of the following matter: Government priorities.

I want to speak today on Government priorities. It is in this week where the conversation has been around the stadium. The response yesterday by the Premier in our private members' time about the closure of St Helens Private Hospital was a stark contrast and shows so clearly what the Government's priorities have been over the last nine years in government. The St Helens closure, which is imminent in just one month's time, will affect thousands of the most vulnerable Tasmanians, thousands of people who are needing lifesaving and suicide prevention care and getting it successfully from St Helens.

We had Madison and her mother-in-law Linda in here yesterday. Madison is just one of the many people who have reached out and contacted us about how the thought of the closure of St Helens Private Hospital has affected them. There are 111 patients on the books at the moment who receive lifesaving TMS (transcranial magnetic stimulation) treatment. There are thousands of people who are involved in therapy groups, which are essential to long-term healing and recovery. Without therapy groups, without TMS, these people are so vulnerable. These are lifesaving treatments. They are provided by expert staff.

St Helens, currently owned by Healthscope, has been abandoned by that Canadian owned venture, which is fundamentally about business so it is not surprising that they have dropped the ball. Their arguments for why they have done so do not stack up -

Mr SPEAKER - Member for Franklin, you are going okay but in a general sense we had this debate yesterday. After the arguments that were had yesterday, you cannot reflect on the debate from yesterday. All I am saying to everybody when -

Dr WOODRUFF - What are we talking about?

Mr SPEAKER - We had the debate yesterday.

Dr WOODRUFF - About what?

Mr SPEAKER - About the hospital. I am just saying that there was a decision made, there was a vote yesterday.

Dr WOODRUFF - It is still there and it still a live issue in the community. Are you saying we cannot talk about the stadium because we have talked about it before?

Ms O'Connor - Did you refer to that vote?

Dr WOODRUFF - I did not refer to the vote.

Mr SPEAKER - The rule is there so that the continuation of an argument does not take place.

Ms O'CONNOR - Mr Speaker, I have never heard anything like this before. I would like to understand under what standing order you are attempting to stop Dr Woodruff from speaking?

Mr SPEAKER - I am not attempting to stop her. I am making a point to the House that under a standing order you cannot reflect on the debate -

Dr WOODRUFF - Which standing order is that?

Mr SPEAKER - I will find it while you are continuing -

Dr WOODRUFF - Thank you, Mr Speaker. I would expect you to know the standing order you are using to try to stop me from speaking on our matter of public importance.

Mr SPEAKER - You cannot reflect on a debate we have had.

Dr WOODRUFF - I am not reflecting on the vote, Mr Speaker.

Mr SPEAKER - I am just reminding the House.

Dr WOODRUFF - Can I please continue, since I have now lost about a minute of my time from this interjection? Thank you.

The question here is about the Government's warped priorities when we have had a stadium being the entire focus of the Premier for the last year. The Premier is also the Minister for Health and Minister for Mental Health and Wellbeing. We will have thousands of patients with nowhere to go in one month's time. The best the Premier can do is say, 'In the last week we looked at that building, we looked at purchasing it, and we have decided categorically out of hand it is not fit for purpose, so it is not going to be purchased by the Government as a public health asset.'

Well, we call foul on the Government's priorities, because he has put all of his energies into the stadium. He has been a part-time minister for mental health, and a part-time minister for health. When we have this enormous looming mental health crisis, we do not accept that this building is not fit for purpose without some investment that could be made by taxpayer money. We know that polling shows 70 per cent of Tasmanians reject this stadium. They do not want it. We do not need it. Consistent polling in Tasmania has shown what people want and the top priorities are health, housing and climate change. That is what people want. They do not want a government wasting our money, their money, on a stadium when it could be used to purchase St Helens Private Hospital.

At least the Premier could investigate negotiating a lease with Healthscope, or if it has been sold, with the business that bought it. We must have continuity of care. Everything that the Premier provided yesterday had no continuity of care for TMS delivery and for long-term recovery therapy groups. There is nothing else available. The options he put on the table will not be here for two years at the best. There is nowhere in the public sector people can get TMS. It is not available. The only place is at St Helens. Thousands of people and their families and psychiatrists and psychologists have contacted us in tears. The words they use are 'frightened', and 'scared'. They are sobbing. They cannot believe it. These are people who are on every day watch for self-harm and for suicide protection. They will end up in the ED.

We have the worst waiting times in the country - 28 hours on average in the ED for a person in mental health distress. This will happen on the Premier's watch and he has to intervene. He can. We do not accept, and neither do staff and patients, that that building is not fit for purpose.