For every dollar received this year, Tasmania will spend $1.29. Spending on health will help, says Ruth Forrest
NEVER waste a crisis.
It’s a hackneyed phrase for sure, but it accurately sums up the sentiment of people I talk to. We need to take advantage of new opportunities as we rebuild and not squander any positives this extraordinary time has presented. We also need to explore which things we can do better.
It was pleasing to hear the Prime Minister announce a continuation of the National Cabinet following its success as a decision-making forum during the pandemic. A continuation of cooperative federalism will be needed to ensure recovery of state government finances and is crucial to service delivery at the coalface. The plight of state governments has scarcely rated a mention as all focus has been on the millions of private businesses and their employees, but they have suffered similar revenue losses.
This year a significant legislative change will be debated to alter the arrangements related to gaming machines or pokies in this state. The government has made its policy clear with regard to gaming machines. Despite the significant harm caused to many families in our community, gaming machines will not be removed from pubs and clubs.
Spending too little each year, then a paltry catch-up, sets up our health system for failure.
There’s a surreal aspect to the current public commentary on the health crisis gripping Tasmania. We know there’s a problem and we need a solution.
Everyone avoids talking about the giant elephant in the room, the Government’s unsustainable fiscal position.
Addressing the health crisis requires looking at all factors that have contributed to the mess. Otherwise, suggested remedial action is about as useful as relying on backburning alone to address climate change challenges.
The Advocate (2 December, 2019) reported on the recent Tasmanian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (TCCI) 2019 Tasmania Report, noting it paints 'a grim picture of the state's future if targeted investment into critical services is not achieved.'
The underlying issue, that almost everyone avoids talking about, is the government's unsustainable fiscal position. The State government is in the same position now as it was when it won government in 2014. We spend more than we receive. The imbalances will worsen. There are no cash buffers. There are no funds set aside for a rainy day.
The economic success and benefit is not being shared as the gap between economic and social outcomes has failed to close.
Being tough on crime and protecting our children and frontline workers from sexual and serious assaults must include measures that achieve effective deterrents, proportionate outcomes and protection of victims.
Minimum mandatory sentencing, as shown through extensive research, does not reduce crime nor act as a deterrent. Further it reduces the likelihood of a guilty plea resulting in further traumatisation for victims of crime and can result in unjust outcomes for some sectors of society including aboriginal people and those from low socio-economic backgrounds.
It’s only a matter of time before reality catches up with the State government.
Treasury Secretary Tony Ferrall’s rewrite of his 2016 Fiscal Sustainability Report last month, when the original report was found to be lacking, sounded the warning bells loud and clear.
We should be thankful the Report was made directly to Parliament. There’s been a growing tendency for the government to put unfavourable reports on a trolley before wheeling them into the cabinet room to re-badge them as cabinet-in-confidence documents never to see the light of day.
Tasmanian discrimination law is among the most discussed, debated and scrutinised of any legislation passed in the State. Most recently in 2017 additional religious exemptions were rejected because they risked fundamentally diminishing the protections available under the existing Act.
The right to free speech is important to all Australians. However, this right is not an unmitigated freedom to say whatever you want. There are established boundaries and social standards. The right to free speech has an inherent obligation to moderate our own contributions. With rights comes responsibilities and an obligation to not harm.
There is no safe way to take "party drugs" or any other illicit drugs.
Pill testing services in no way condone, support or approve of the use of "party drugs" or any other illicit drugs and is only one aspect of a comprehensive drug policy.
Education will always be a critical component of any health related policy. A zero-tolerance approach denies the reality of historic and current drug use and can be contrary to effective harm minimisation and drug avoidance strategies and policies.
My vision sees a Tasmania that is inclusive, safe, productive and vibrant where all Tasmanians are prosperous across happiness, wellbeing and financial measures. We value, protect and respect our natural environment for current and future generations and care for our land, sea and air as we share in and benefit from these precious assets.
For this vision to be achieved, with all Tasmanians able to share in the benefits living in this state provides, we will value education as the key to success.
SEXUAL assault, especially when perpetrated against children, and violent crimes against any Tasmanians, particularly those in the front line providing services to us, is abhorrent and completely unacceptable.
We must always act to address the horrific realities of those who are victims of such crime.
Prevention should be our aim because regardless of the penalty imposed, the victim has lifelong impacts. Actions must also be based in evidence and research.
MILLIONS of dollars are being promised by all sides of politics leading up to May 18. From small community organisations desperate for funds to large infrastructure projects, there almost seems to be an unlimited supply. Some promises are actually re-announced funding commitments.
We have seen a National Party Senator promise money as though it was a certainty for many community based organisations, only to mention almost as an afterthought, that they will need to apply for the funds through grant application processes. This is misleading and manipulative.
CRITICAL CONDITION: Independent Murchison MLC Ruth Forrest says in light of the critical challenges facing Tasmania's health system "it is time to take a step back, think and plan strategically about acute health services for this state before we keep spending on facilities unlikely to meet future demand".
Tasmanian health services are on the critical list.
It was alarming to read a letter from registrars working in the Emergency Department of the Royal Hobart Hospital addressed to the Tasmanian Health Service executive, expressing their deep and real concern for the safety of patients and staff.
ELECTIONS are a great way of deciding who we want to sit on the Treasury benches but they’re a flawed means of deciding particular policies, especially vexed questions like pokie policy.
The Liberals deservedly won the 2014 election because they hadn’t done enough wrong. Electors, however, didn’t give them carte blanche approval to do whatever they wanted. Rather they were given the right to put forward a detailed proposal for consideration. My role as a Legislative Councillor is to scrutinise any proposal on behalf of my constituents.
Major parties claim to be open and transparent and that donations received don’t impact on decisions they make.
Tasmanians want to know who has the ear of Government and be aware of the potential influencers on parties and candidates. No-one believes significant amounts of money are given by interested persons and groups without an expectation of a return. The current delays in reporting are anachronistic.
THE politics of fear and prejudice are being used around the country and world. In more recent times, this approach is being rejected. People claim they can’t trust politicians, stating they are only in it for their own gain, they don’t follow up on promises or commitments and they revert to fear-mongering to win elections.
I feel as frustrated and disappointed as other members of our community.
Last week we saw the federal Morrison Government, particularly Assistant Treasurer Stuart Robert, doing just this with his comments regarding the recording of birth details of Tasmanian babies and the subsequent detail recorded on birth certificates.
ACCESS to timely, safe, high quality health care is a reasonable expectation for all Tasmanians. Currently residents in the North-West and West Coast regions, and other regional areas, are right to feel aggrieved at the inequity we face in access to some health services that could and should be provided in our local region.
We generally accept it is safer to travel to access a one-off complex surgical procedure, despite the inconvenience at the time. However, travelling for noncomplex procedures that can and should be provided locally or for some chronic conditions is unreasonable and inequitable.
Ruth Forrest says long-awaited new rules for the carve-up of tax revenue will fail
THE possible benefits that may flow to Tasmania from the new rules for dividing GST revenue between states suggested, at first glance, a win for the state and a win for a rules-based system that, if nothing else, gives future certainty.
Housing Tasmania is forced to pay off millions to Federal Government, writes Ruth Forrest
ONE of the essentials of life is shelter. If a person or a family does not have safe, secure and suitable shelter their chances of good health and of gaining an educational outcome that will assist them into employment and reduce reliance on social support is extremely high.
WOMEN on low incomes and in regional Tasmania are being disadvantaged because of a lack of abortion services in public hospitals, says Murchison MLC Ruth Forrest.
She will move a motion in the Legislative Council calling on Health MinisterMichael Ferguson to ensure all Tasmanian women have equitable access to termination of pregnancy services in the public hospital system.
Ms Forrest said her motion was not about whether terminations should be available because that had already been decided by parliament in 2013.
THIS year’s Federal budget and the Opposition response suggest there is $300 billion worth of revenue over the next 10 years that the Government is willing to hand back to taxpayers.
What may appear to cynics as a vote-buying exercise has been pitched as tax reform. We are part of a federal system. When it comes to tax reform, are tax cuts to individuals and companies at the Federal level the most urgent?
The only promise missing from this election campaign is the one we most desperately need. A State Optometrist. Someone to check the vision of those responsible for the daily deluge of pledges from all parties with little connection to any clearly articulated vision or long term plan.
The majority Government of the last four years has wasted its grand opportunity to lay down a long term plan and is still relying on a hotchpotch of promises to shore up votes.
Government hasn’t stuck to its agenda for major projects, says Ruth Forrest
THE TasWater takeover Bill which will soon be discussed in the Legislative Council contains provisions requiring the new corporation to formulate a 10-year infrastructure plan to be agreed with the Government, which must be reflected in the corporate plan and budgets.
If only the Government would run its own affairs like this. When it comes to sticking to infrastructure plans this Government has been woeful.
Ruth Forrest says judges and courts must have power to balance crime with punishment
TOUGH on crime or a political stunt to win votes?
With barely three months having passed since the Legislative Council rejected the Government’s bill to introduce mandatory sentences for serious sexual offences against children, the Government has given notice it wants MLCs to reconsider.
The state needs to devise a better plan for infrastructure spending, says Ruth Forrest
THE annual Budget circus is about to get under way. Will it be the same old vaudeville that we’ll be glad to see the back of after a few frantic weeks, or will we see some fresh performances and displays of leadership? Is it too much to hope for a spirit of greater co-operation to move this state forward a notch or two?
A PARLIAMENTARY inquiry has recommended an overhaul of Tasmania’s preventative healthcare systems with the state lagging far behind the national average in several areas. A joint select committee report detailed a sorry summary of the state’s health and well being trends and subsequent need for reform including greater funding.
I’m not a monarchist but I do like the Queen. Especially when she asks pertinent questions as she did in 2009 when visiting the London School of Economics. Referring to the Global Financial Crisis she asked her learned hosts: “Why did no one see it coming?”
March 19, 2016 12:00am - The Hobart Mercury - Opinion
I used to work in the Safe Schools program that faces the axe. It was not called that then. It was Family Life Education. I was employed by the Catholic welfare organisation Centacare, to deliver a program to school students from Kinder to Years 11 and 12 across the North-West Coast.
ALL the heavy lifting has been done, all major decisions made. The Tasmanian Government is back on track. This is what the media releases and headlines tell us. But is it really the case? The fact the general government sector, which covers all departments and agencies commonly referred to as “the government” forms only part of the overall state sector, is often overlooked.
All Governments do it. Cherry picking figures to suit their narrative.
The Treasurer released the Government’s Preliminary Outcomes Report for 2014/15 and proclaimed a much better result than the estimated outcome contained in the May Budget papers, which in turn was much better than the original budget handed down in August 2014.
More than any other State, Tasmania doesn’t have much wriggle room when framing budgets. The Treasurer’s recently released Revised Estimates Report for 2014-15 shows this year’s budget hasn’t strayed too far from what was expected. It would have been alarming if it had as only four months elapsed from budget day to the end of the first half year.
2015 will no doubt bring challenges, surprises and the inevitable good with the bad. Tasmania’s future will continue to be uncertain until there is a shared understanding of the problems the State faces. It will be easier to solve problems together if we can develop such an understanding.
ONE would have expected dancing in the street – or at least an acknowledgment – after the news that Tasmania may have dodged a bullet. Hidden in the Federal Budget papers is Tasmania’s projected share of GST for the next three years at $500 million more than expected a year ago. The Hodgman Government’s response has been remarkably subdued.
The community are often the forgotten stakeholders in the debate around health service delivery. To achieve meaningful change the community across Tasmania needs to have a real understanding of why health service delivery has changed and why it is vital that it continues to change.