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.
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.
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.
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.