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Preventative Health

Dr Rosalie Woodruff MP

Dr Rosalie Woodruff MP  -  Tuesday, 19 June 2018

Tags: Chronic Health Conditions, Preventative Health, Ambulances, Tobacco

Dr WOODRUFF (Franklin) - Mr Deputy Speaker, I had so many things in my mind preparing to speak to this matter of public importance, but they were all washed away by the minister's later comment that he just made.  He said, 'We can't reduce smoking rates by introducing a rule for Tasmanians.'  What a shock?  What a shame that this person holds the responsibility of the ministry for health, because that is a fundamental rewriting of the global success of Australia's approach to reducing smoking rates.  It is a fundamental insight into the atomistic, individualistic responsibility that this minister puts onto a person taking them outside of their environment.  He clearly has no basis for calling himself any sort of an expert on health.

This is the person who was responsible for overseeing the future of Tasmania's health system and for overseeing the Liberal Party's own policy, which they took to the 2014 election and which they have dropped from their policy book.  It was to improve Tasmania's health so it was the best in Australia by 2025.

If that was not an insight into why we will never get there under this Liberal Government I cannot think of a better example.  It is precisely the systemic approach to population health that we need to do something about the mountain of chronic diseases that we have in Tasmania, the tsunami of chronic diseases that are building inexorably because we fail to do anything about what is happening at the top of the cliff, and we put the ambulance at the bottom of the cliff.  Time and again we keep arguing over the small change in the health system, which is about the money going in and out of the public hospital system.

No-one in this Chamber would argue that we should spend less on our public health system.  Anyone who is enlightened and understands the reality of mathematics, of statistics, of disease progression, of demographics would know that we will do nothing to shift the increasing rates of diabetes, of smoking amongst certain groups of people in Tasmania, the increasing rates of cancers and of stroke, the increasing rates of asthma, unless we put money into preventative health and community health services in regional Tasmania as well as in the major urban areas.  The Treasurer does not understand.  He accused the Opposition of having a health policy that defies the laws of economics.  The Government has a health policy that defies the natural laws of disease progression and the natural laws of how humans work together.

Mr Deputy Speaker, I know you would like me to sit down sooner rather than later, which is why you keep looking at the clock.

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER - Order.  That is out of order.  I will abide by standing orders, as will you.  You have seven minutes allocated and I will check the clock when -

Dr WOODRUFF - How much time do I have left, Mr Deputy Speaker?

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER - You have three minutes remaining.  I will not have you reflecting on the Chair or its intention.  You are formally warned and cautioned.  Do it again and I will have no option other than to ask you to leave the Chamber.  The member has the call.

Dr WOODRUFF - Thank you, Mr Deputy Speaker.  Returning to the things that this Government has not funded:  although they have had two years to work on the Chronic Disease Prevention Alliance plan and the submission to the Healthy Tasmania Five Year Strategic Plan, there has been no funding in this Budget for the drivers of the increasing poor health of Tasmanians.  Because we have an ageing population, because we have one of Australia's poorest populations and because we have the worst health indicators, we must put health into all our policies.  We must do something about tobacco legislation.  The minister and the Government failed to do that in the last term.

They wound down the preventative health committee and killed off the conversation they brought to the 2014 election about taking strong action on smoking.  They gave in to the tobacco industry.  There were serious accusations that this Liberal Government was strongly influenced by Imperial Tobacco in the development of its smoking policy and lack of action on tobacco.  The Government is prepared to take money from British Tobacco.  The Liberals did indeed take funding from British Tobacco.

Mr Ferguson - You are just making this up.

Dr WOODRUFF - No, it is true, minister.  It was previously on the record of Hansard.