Friday 8 June 2012 Independent MP Andrew Wilkie has bypassed Health Minister Tanya Plibersek, going direct to Minister Anthony Albanese to bail out Tasmania’s public hospitals.
Mr Wilkie has announced hundreds of millions without any GST clawback. Ms Plibersek has made no announcement to justify Minister Albanese’s decision.
The Shadow Minister for Health and Ageing, Peter Dutton, says the deal reveals division in the Labor ministry.
“Minister Albanese does the deal with Mr Wilkie. Ms Plibersek is left struggling to invent policy reasons to fit a political decision,” Mr Dutton said.
Mr Dutton is also concerned that Ms Plibersek’s weak grip on her portfolio will leave her powerless to hold the Tasmanian Government to account.
“It’s clear Ms Plibersek is not making the decisions. The Government’s dysfunction and division has left her no authority to ensure hundreds of millions actually deliver the surgery, beds and nurses that Tasmania deserves,” Mr Dutton said.
Ms Plibersek has been touring Tasmania, in the wake of $100 million in cuts to local hospitals. The cuts have effectively sacked 287 full time nurses, closed 100 beds in a year and reduced elective surgery volumes.
On the 9 February 2012, Ms Plibersek told Parliament, “...we will be requiring much closer oversight of the Tasmanian government's management of the health system in Tasmania. I think the saying might be 'we will be all over them like a rash”.
Mr Dutton is concerned that a rash of dysfunction is all over the Gillard Government and it is unable to live up to its rhetoric on holding the States to account.
“Ms Plibersek has lost her grip on the portfolio. The Government will bail out the States no matter how badly they mismanage health. This won’t be the last time the Minister is bypassed for a special deal,” Mr Dutton said.