Libs respond to Martyn Goddard’s TT article, That’s the way the money goes! The federal health bailout and its priorities

State Health Minister Michelle O’Byrne with Premier Lara Giddings. Michelle O’Byrne Pic: Rob Walls,

In Parliament Ms O’Byrne was unable to dispute the claims of respected health policy analyst Martyn Goddard, that $40 million of the $325 million Federal bailout will go into the fourth review of health in Tasmania in eight years.*

How many consultants does it take before Michelle O’Byrne will spend money on beds not bureaucrats?

Labor has not followed through on the recommendations of any of its health reviews or plans in the past, so why would this one be any different?

As Martyn Goddard points out – $40 million represents up to an additional 3500 operations, or the salaries of another 125 nurses or another 67 doctors for four years.

For Ms O’Byrne to indicate support for another health redesign at a time when Tasmanians can’t get a hospital bed or elective surgery within clinically recommended timeframes, shows how totally out of touch with reality this Minister is.


[10.38 a.m.]
Mr ROCKLIFF (Question) – My question is to the Minister for Health. Minister, respected health analyst Martin Goddard has today said that over $40 million of a $325 million health bailout will go into the fourth administrative review of health in this state in eight years. Given that you have lent this federal package your unqualified support, is Martin Goddard right? How do you justify supporting $40 million going into desk jobs – more than is going into elective surgery over the four years?

Ms O’BYRNE – I thank the member for his question,

Members interjecting.

Mr SPEAKER – Order. The minister is on her feet.

Ms O’BYRNE – I have not even started. I ask all members to cast their minds back over the last 12 months. Can anyone remember Mr Rockliff saying that we should put more money into health? I am sure we did. I am sure we heard him say we needed more money for health. I am sure we have heard him recognise that there are challenges in the health system. He does not know how to meet them but he recognises that there are challenges. But can he say one good thing about the additional $325 million?

Mr Rockliff – More is going into desk jobs than elective surgery. That is not good.

Ms O’BYRNE – That $325 million is being invested into health in Tasmania. Not one word, and do you know why? Because this is how they behave. They are in an opposition that builds their entire interaction with the community on fear, scare tactics and mistruths. We have seen what they said to communities about the forest industry, how they promised that if the IGA went away, all of a sudden the markets would be better again. Everything would be rosy again. If I were not the health minister, all of a sudden health in Australia would be better. I really wish I were that powerful.

The reality is that internationally and nationally we are going through significant challenges in the health system. Within this $325 million, the Australian Government have put money into something we asked them to work on with us – critical system redesign to place us into the future. This is money that we would never, ever have had access to before and that we can use to shape the health system for the future.

This is working with experts in this field including a very respected health player, Mr Alan Bansemer, who will be chairing the commission; a very respected Tasmanian physician, Dr Alasdair MacDonald, and a very respected health planner, Dr Heather Wellington. These are all people who will work with us, with our clinicians, and with our community to ensure we have moved beyond the boom-and-bust cycle of health, as Mr O’Halloran regularly refers to it. We will move beyond it to a sustainable system that places Tasmania not just where the other states are, but puts us in the forefront of system reform and clinical redesign.

Mr Rockliff has a choice here, just as he had choices on forestry and government which he failed to take up. He can be part of the future redesign of a positive health system or he can sit over there and continue to carp and whine.

Mr ROCKLIFF – Point of order, Mr Speaker. The minister is avoiding the question.

Mr SPEAKER – Order. That is not a point of order.

Mr Rockliff – I am assuming that Martin Goddard is right.

Mr SPEAKER – Order. I want to bring something to your notice and I suggest you all read it in the recess. It is standing order 192 and that is ‘constant interruptions’ for which there are penalties. Taking a point of order just for the sake of making a political point is not acceptable. I suggest that from now on anyone taking a point of order should refer to the standing orders and under what standing order they intend to take the point of order.

Mr Sturges – Hear, hear.