02 November 2011
Andrew asks the Federal Health Minister, Nicola Roxon, whether the Federal Government will consider Tasmania to test the inevitable federal takeover of public hospitals.
Mr WILKIE (Denison) (14:25): My question is to the Minister for Health and Ageing. Minister, Tasmanians are dying due to the shocking state of our public hospitals and both health professionals and the state government have called on Canberra for a takeover. Given a federal takeover of public hospitals nationally is inevitable and Tasmania is best placed to trial such reform, will you now commence negotiations with the Tasmanian government to do just that?
Ms PLIBERSEK (Sydney—Minister for Health) (14:25): I want to thank the member for Denison for his very serious question. I also acknowledge the former member for Denison; it is great to see him here. Like the member for Denison, I was very disappointed to hear about the Tasmanian government’s cut to elective surgery, which I think he is referring to here. I was particularly disappointed because the Commonwealth government will contribute $2½ billion to the Tasmanian health system over the next decade. It is a very significant investment, and I know that the member for Denison and the members for Braddon, Bass, Franklin and Lyons expected much more from the Tasmanian government than what they have got in recent times.
I can inform the House and those members who are interested that we will be requiring much closer oversight of the Tasmanian government’s management of the health system in Tasmania. I think the saying might be ‘we will be all over them like a rash’ because this withdrawal of effort in elective surgery is very bad for the people of Tasmania. But we are not contemplating a Commonwealth takeover of the Tasmanian hospital system or indeed of the hospital system in any state or territory. What we will continue to do is make our investments, under close scrutiny, in areas like the Royal Hobart Hospital in the electorate of the member for Denison; the Mersey Community Hospital; and extra funding through the national partnership agreement to improve public hospitals in Tasmania, including extra funding into emergency departments, elective surgery, subacute beds, more radiation oncology services, more GP superclinics, better surgical services and so on. We are disappointed with the actions of the Tasmanian government. I know the member for Denison and my colleagues are concerned about those changes.
Mr Dutton: Do something about it then!
Ms PLIBERSEK: What I can say is that we will continue to be all over them like a rash. I hear the shadow minister interjecting. He is the guy who comes from the side that ripped a billion dollars out of public hospitals.