Both Paul Lennon and Rene Hidding have made confusing or incorrect statements about important state issues in recent weeks, raising a few questions about the competance of either man as leader of our state.
Paul Lennon called a specific press conference on the 16th of February to push his message that the declining support for his Government is clearly because “people want us to get the problems at the Royal fixed”.
But that is clearly not the case – the decline in support for this Labor government is due to its abject failure to address or even admit to mounting problems across the health sector as a whole, for years.
The resignation and/or threatened mass departure of multiple specialists at the Royal Hobart Hospital eventually forced the government’s hand, but this doesn’t mean that all problems lie within the RHH or that their solution will automatically revive the government popularity.
There’s no escaping the obvious conclusion that Labor will pay at the ballot box next year for allowing the continued decay and decline of our health system, on their watch, when their coffers were full and while their sporting, gambling and logging friends were all rolling in government assistance.
The government needs to accept that there are many, many more issues in our health system than those being faced at the Royal. For example, disability services are falling apart at the seams – they’ve been under-resourced and over-stretched for far too long.
Then there are the repeated calls for more respite housing from the parents of disabled children – two elections after an ALP election promise to build them. Examples like this abound – massive waiting lists, under-resourced and poorly run care homes, patients kept on trolleys in hospital corridors, Tasmanians being sent to Melbourne for essential surgery and so on and so on and so on. Yet until the recent threat from specialists, none of the problems in our health system sparked the response we needed from our Government.
While people do want the Tasmanian Government “to get the problems at the Royal fixed,” they won’t be rushing to vote Labor afterwards as the Royal is but one part of a much bigger problem in the system. Lennon’s Government now faces the widespread perception that they allowed the entire health sector to decline while rewarding their mates at the very same time. Last year’s “Heart of Gold” budget for example did nothing to address the big health issues but contained $30 million for sporting redevelopments.
And Rene? Like a shag on a rock…
There’s no escaping the obvious conclusion that Labor will pay at the ballot box next year for allowing the continued decay and decline of our health system, on their watch, when their coffers were full and while their
sporting, gambling and logging friends were all rolling in government
And Rene? Like a shag on a rock, Rene’s loudly raised the prospect of an early election in recent weeks. But why? Nobody else is talking about this and its blatantly obvious that the Government will not go to the polls until its injected a truck load of funds into health. So why is Rene unilaterally squarking about such an unlikely possibility at this time? The
only probable reason I can see is that he’s shoring up his own position as
Liberal leader. With about 18 months to go until the next Tasmanian election, a new leader has just enough time to establish themselves in the
minds of the electors. But if a snap election looms, all thoughts of leadership change must go out the window as competition for the leadership
implies disunity and of course disunity is political death.
So the only person to benefit from the prospect of an early election is Rene
himself. And he’s the only one talking about it. The possibility of an early election is not the only thing Rene’s been discussing lately however, with the Spirit of Tasmania III ferry also firmly in his sights. Or is it?:
“Now, um, you know, but, for one reason or another the, er, the Tasmanian Government bought this ship the way they bought it, er, we’ve got concerns about that but we’re not being churlish about that now.” 7ZR, 9/2/05, 9:06am
“This government ignored advice at the time [of purchase] for whatever
reason and, uh, and, er, they ought to be held accountable and we will hold
them accountable for that.” 7ZR, 9/2/05, 9:09am
Harold Wilson thought a week was a long time in politics, but 3 minutes is
just ridiculous. Crikey.com summed up Rene in March last year, an
assessment that’s still pertinent 11 months on:
“… Hidding is the also the least popular opposition leader in the country. Now, the opposition leaders in Australia are a pretty lack-lustre lot, so to be bottom of that list makes you pretty damn bad. The baddest of the bad in fact.” Christian Kerr/Hilary Bray, March 2004, (http://www.crikey.com.au/politics/2004/03/25-0003.html)
Jason Lovell is a an ascerbic social and political commentator on Tasmanian Times.