Ms O'CONNOR question to MINISTER for HEALTH, Mr FERGUSON
After months of prevaricating your Commonwealth colleagues have today announced a two-year funding deal for the Mersey hospital. Do you agree with Devonport Mayor, Steve Martin, that the $148 million over two years, while welcome, is a bandaid solution that provides no long-term certainty for the Mersey? Do you agree the Abbott Government should have made a longer-term funding commitment to the Mersey? Was it a political bandaid designed to get the Federal Liberals past the next election or was it down to your poor negotiating skills and inability to secure a better, more long-term deal for the Mersey?
Madam Speaker, first of all let us deal with the last part of that question. It is a great deal. Let me say why. It is tens of millions of dollars better off than the Labor Party said we needed. It provides security. You want to talk about bandaids but it is really $148.5 million. With all the political rhetoric that is out there on the Mersey, I do not blame people for wanting more money and more time; that is tremendous. All of these things are welcome in the public debate. I do not even mind people saying that they would like more money and more time.
The Opposition Leader is irrelevant because he has no policy position on this. He has a cordial policy but he has no Mersey policy. He has nothing. He has no credibility whatsoever. After 14 months in opposition, if they cannot come up with a position on this, they are irrelevant.
It is a good deal for the Tasmanian health system. I say to Ms O'Connor that I hope she will also welcome it because it provides the security that is needed. I would also like to have the opportunity to go back and check my records, but if I am not mistaken, I believe the former Labor-Greens Government negotiated a one-year variation to the deed to provide for a one-year deal. That timed out last June, just months after the election. Reflect on these things. You have no credibility on Health.