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25 July 2014

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A statement on the possible establishment of a single Tasmanian Health Organisation in Launceston

I have learned this morning the Tasmanian Government is actively considering establishing a single state-wide health organisation based in Launceston.

Collapsing the current three Tasmanian Health Organisations into one is a good idea. But to contemplate basing it in Launceston would be an absurdity.

To base the new health organisation in Launceston would effectively disconnect the organisation from the state’s main hospital and the weight of clinical and tertiary health services which are obviously in Hobart. By implication there would be a further reduction in the delivery of health services to the entire Tasmanian population, which has already been poorly served by decades of poor political decision making.

To locate a single health organisation in Launceston would be parochialism gone mad. This is the Launceston mafia hijacking public health planning in Tasmania. In a state of only half a million people to continue to locate large chunks of the public health system in regional areas is patently ridiculous. All Tasmanians will enjoy better public healthcare with not only fewer, but also more sensibly located, public health structures and facilities.

There is also the important matter of the Health Minister’s personal conflict of interest. If he was to decide to put a single health organisation in his home town and own electorate, then that would be political pork barrelling on an industrial scale at the expense of good public health planning.

I call on the Premier and the Health Minister to rule out anything other than a single health organisation based in Hobart.

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25 July 2014

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Don’t leave pensioners out in the cold

The Independent Member for Denison, Andrew Wilkie, joined Glenorchy Alderman Kristie Johnston to urge Premier Will Hodgman to fall into line with every other state and territory and maintain concessions to eligible pensioners in next month’s State Budget.

In the recent Federal Budget, the Abbott Government axed the National partnership on certain concessions for pensioners and seniors card holders. The $9m funding allocated to Tasmania substantially subsidised the State Government’s concession program.

All other states and territories have now committed to making up for the loss of Commonwealth funding. But in Tasmania there’s fear and uncertainty as the State Government has only committed to maintaining existing concessions until the budget next month.

Mr Wilkie has been contacted by many pensioners worried about how the loss of concessions for electricity, rates and water and other necessities will affect their strained household budgets.

``These concessions are not a luxury; for many they are the difference between being able to pay their electricity or water bill or have these essential services disconnected,’’ Mr Wilkie said.

``This is now a uniquely Tasmanian problem.

``If Premier Will Hodgman does not cover the shortfall, Tasmania will be the only place in Australia to leave pensioners out in the cold.’’

Background

Tasmania
The Tasmanian Government has not committed to maintaining existing concessions beyond the August budget. http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-05-29/government-to-fill-pensioner-concession-gap-for-two-months/5486336

Australian Capital Territory
The ACT has absorbed the loss of Commonwealth funding for pensioner concessions in its Budget.

New South Wales
The NSW Government committed to make up the funding shortfall in its 2014–15 Budget. http://www.governmentnews.com.au/2014/06/states-bail-pensioner-rates-concessions-except-wa/

Northern Territory
The NT Government has tightened eligibility for its concession scheme in its 2014–15 Budget but the new conditions will not affect pensioner concession card holders (will affect other groups such as seniors not holding a concession card). http://www.cotant.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2014/05/COTA-Coomalie-Newsletter33.pdf and http://www.sbs.com.au/news/article/2014/05/13/new-pensioners-squeezed-nt-budget

Queensland
Premier Newman stated the Queensland Government would cover the loss of Commonwealth funding for pensioner concessions. http://parlinfo.aph.gov.au/parlInfo/search/display/display.w3p;query=Id%3A%22media%2Fpressclp%2F3207215%22

South Australia
The South Australian Government committed to funding the shortfall in its 2014-15 budget. http://servicesa.cdn.on.net/budget201415/media/concessions-standing-up-for-pensioners-and-low-income-earners.pdf

Victoria
The Victorian Premier has stated that it will make up for the shortfall in Commonwealth funding for pensioner concessions for one year. http://www.news.com.au/national/breaking-news/vic-health-concessions-safe-premier-says/story-e6frfku9-1226927012810 and http://parlinfo.aph.gov.au/parlInfo/search/display/display.w3p;query=Id%3A%22media%2Fpressclp%2F3252577%22

Western Australia
The WA Government has not changed the concessions provided to pensioner concession card holders covered by the National Partnership agreement. http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-06-24/cost-of-living-rebate-for-seniors-slashed/5546872

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24 July 2014

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The daily struggle of single mums on Newstart

The Independent Member for Denison, Andrew Wilkie, has congratulated the National Council of Single Mothers and their Children for highlighting the plight of single mothers struggling on Newstart.

The National Council of Single Mothers and their Children has produced a documentary of 10 mothers speaking about the struggle to put food on the table and keep a roof over their head on Newstart.

``Bringing up children is the most important job in the world and doing it as a single parent is as tough as it gets,’’ Mr Wilkie said.

``Single parents deserve support but instead governments have been stripping away the little help they get.

``They have the perennial difficulty of finding gainful employment between dropping the kids off at 9am and picking them up at 3pm—and when it comes to the parenting payment they have already taken a big hit with the reduction in the qualifying age of children from 16 to eight.
``But now they face cuts to family tax benefits, co-payments for seeing the doctor and getting their scripts filled, and even more to fill the tank in the car.

``What is going on here? Why are single parents, and in particular single mums, being singled out for even harsher treatment than the rest of the community?

``I urge the Prime Minister to take the time to watch these individual stories and increase support to single mothers so they can focus on their children.’’

The film will premiere in Adelaide tomorrow, July 25, at the Mercury Cinema at 6pm. For more information www.10storiesofsinglemothers.org.au

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