The Prime Minister has again refused to extend beyond June the $325m funding stream that was established in 2012 in recognition of Tasmania’s extraordinary public health needs. And in particular he would not be drawn on any further funding for the psychiatric emergency nurses at the Royal Hobart Hospital.
In Question Time today I asked him for such a commitment. But all he offered was some political mumbo-jumbo about what a good job the Federal Government was doing with health care. Indeed it was no better than the useless answer he gave me in Question Time on the same issue in November last year.
The fact is that in 2012 I persuaded the Federal Government of the need for substantial additional funding for Tasmania on account of our ailing public health system and dreadful health outcomes. The situation will deteriorate again if Canberra pulls the funding.
The PEN nurses were funded through a separate program but it too ends in June. Regardless of what Canberra decides, the onus is ultimately on the Tasmanian Government to safeguard staffing levels at the Royal and ultimately it will be their responsibility to ensure that all critical positions remain staffed.
I also spoke at some length with Federal Health Minister Sussan Ley today about these matters but regrettably she too was not prepared to commit to further federal assistance.
Tasmania clearly is a low priority for Malcolm Turnbull and his Government. No Tasmanian Member or Senator is in his Cabinet, and those that have been elected are silent when it counts and apologists for the Government the rest of the time.