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Good afternoon, everybody and what a perfect day to launch a campaign.
What a great time to make Bec White Premier of Tasmania!
I acknowledge the traditional owners of this land upon which we meet and I pay my respect to their elders past and present.
It’s great to be back in Tassie again – and to have so many of my remarkable Federal Tasmanian Labor team here today.
After the 2013 election, we only had one MP from Tasmania in the House of Representatives.
I vividly remember, Julie Collins, a fantastic representative, saying to me that Tasmania needs more Labor voices in the House of Representatives.
And thanks to all of you and many others thousands of supporters knocking on doors, handing out, making phone calls, starting conversations and changing minds.
Thanks to all of you who ignored the ‘experts’, the commentators who never leave Canberra, who 'really' knew what was going on in Bass, Braddon and all of the seats where we did so well.
We turned one Federal seat into four - and that's because of all you in this room.
We in the labour movement understand that the vested interests represented by our opponents will always have more money for the billboards and the ads, more money to spend patting themselves on the back.
But all their money can’t buy one per cent of the passion in this room, one percent of the values which drive our movement.
You all understand, in this room, some of you veterans of many campaigns, you know if you use every minute between now and the 3rd of March to put the case for Bec White, to put the case loudly and strongly, to put the case of her values and Labor values then this election can be won.
Now, I’m not sure if you heard, but on Tuesday, ABC radio interviewed a man who said he’d found fresh paw prints from a Tasmanian tiger, somewhere on the East Coast.
And then on Friday, someone rang up and said they saw Malcolm Turnbull in Tassie as well. I'm not sure which one is harder to believe!
You cannot take away from Mr Turnbull's self-belief. Turning up down here, after ripping literally millions from TAFEs and schools and hospitals.
After cutting the Sunday penalty rates of up to 40,000 Tasmanians
How could he turn up down here when he is planning to raise income tax for 170,000 Tasmanians who go to work - working and middle class Tasmanians?
And why does he want to raise their taxes? Because he wants to give it all away, plus more, to the millionaires and multinationals.
His priorities are not Tasmania's priorities.
But indeed, how could he turn up here on Friday after the events of the last two weeks?
What a most extraordinary situation we now have in Australia:
The government in crisis.
The Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister at war with each other.
And more importantly, the business of this nation - the needs of everyday Australians, forgotten by both of them.
This is the real scandal here: the Deputy Prime Minister and the Prime Minister care more about themselves than they do about the needs of Australians. That's the scandal that has got Australians outraged.
But this forum and this launch, shows that Labor will not let the Coalition soap opera in Canberra distract us from the business of everyday Australians.
The Turnbull-Joyce Government are a divided and dysfunctional rabble and it is not just that they are inept, they’re not just appalling, they are also the most Anti-Tasmanian Government in Canberra that we have ever seen - and the facts sadly prove that assertion.
And every time this inept, out-of-touch Prime Minister cuts a service or a pay-packet or a school, Will Hodgman and the Tassie Liberals just stand back and cheer them on.
Let’s be clear about this.
Will Hodgman isn’t the fall-guy, he is not the accidental Premier, he’s not in the wrong place at the wrong time.
He is a willing and enthusiastic accomplice to the social and economic vandalism of the Turnbull Liberal Government in Canberra.
When it comes to cutting hospitals and cutting schools and cutting TAFE, Will Hodgman is Malcolm Turnbull’s partner-in-crime.
He backs every Federal Liberal cut, every time - lock, stock and barrel.
Tasmanians deserve so much more than this shocking Liberal double-act.
And when there’s not one single Tasmanian voice at the Cabinet table, that is when you most need a strong champion here at home in Tasmania to defend you against the Turnbull
We need someone in Tasmania who will stand up and:
- defend your jobs,
- protect your schools
- invest in your TAFEs
- and invest in your hospitals.
Tasmanians need someone to stand up for the state, for their communities, for their families.
Tasmanians need a Bec White Labor Government in Tasmania.
I think I am like a lot of people that I had high expectations when Bec White became Leader. And I think I am like everybody, we can proudly say today that she has exceeded every expectation we had in her already.
She has the courage to take on the vested interest and powerful lobbies.
She is willing to stare down the well-funded campaigns of critics.
And right through this campaign, Bec has shown everyone that she is determined for Tasmania and Tasmanians to get a better deal from its government:
Better funding for your schools, for your kids.
Better opportunities for young people to go to university and TAFE, in Tassie here at home.
And of course there is nothing more important to Bec than better hospitals and better health care for all Tasmanians.
So in conclusion, it’s healthcare that I want to focus on today.
Because after years of cuts, Liberal cuts, Federal and State, Tasmanian hospitals are under-funded and under pressure.
And the waiting lists here in Tasmania are some of the biggest in the nation.
The official waiting list in Tasmania for elective surgery is nearly 6000 patients long.
But there’s a waiting list, just to get on the waiting list, for those who need an outpatient consultation, before they are ready for surgery.
So in reality right now, there are 30,000 Tasmanians who are being let down by their health care system.
Not let down by the people who work in the system - they're doing marvellous work with insufficient support from Canberra and from their current government.
Across all the categories of operations, only 73 per cent of operations in Tasmania are performed within the clinically recommended time.
73 per cent within the clinically recommended time.
This is not a ‘convenient’ time - it's not a waiting time as you queue up to go to the cinema – this is expert, medically-defined timeframes.
And I’m sorry to inform you that 73 per cent is the worst rating in Australia.
- If you need cataracts removed, it’s an average wait of 185 days – 1 in 10 Tassie patients wait 373 days, longer than a year.
- If you need a hip replacement, again 185 days is the average – but 1 in 10 patients are waiting 442 days.
- When you need a knee replacement, the average wait is 320 days – but 1 in 10 Tasmanians are waiting for a knee replacement is waiting over 500 days.
Now the technical term that the Liberal bean counters use - they describe these operations is ‘elective surgery’. Because it's like a choice, isn't it?
These aren’t cosmetic procedures, they’re not something people choose to do because they’ve got nothing else to do in the day.
These operations and the delay of these operations, means living with pain. Chronic pain is absolutely bloody awful. You can't see it but the people living with it feel it every day.
It is the difference between independently mobile - or not.
The ability to read a paper, or watch sport, lift your kids up, lift your grandkids – that is the difference between having these operations and having them.
These are the real issues.
This is not the soap opera that occupies the Cabinet circus in Canberra.
These are the real problems, the things that animate Labor people: how do we get waiting times down?
You can bet friends, that if a Conservative Cabinet Minister had to wait 500 days for a knee replacement, or had to wait 320 days or 442 days, you can bet something would happen bloody quickly with this government.
We in Labor believe in properly funding health - it is our priority.
I know Bec is not satisfied, I am not satisfied when we have to face Australians and say that is the best that can be done.
That’s why Bec White and her united team have already committed $75 million to massively boost outpatient consultations, so thousands of Tasmanians - your family, your neighbours, your friends - are not on a waiting list to get onto a waiting list.
And I am pleased today to announce that a Shorten Labor Government will deliver $30 million to halve the waiting lists in Tasmania, that's what we will do.
We’ll inject new funding, new resources, indeed, new hope, into:
- The Royal Hobart Hospital
- The North West Regional Hospital in Burnie
- The Mersey Community Hospital in Latrobe
- And of course, the Launceston General Hospital.
We will help thousands of Tasmanians who have been waiting far too long.
And you know how we can make these promises and say we can find the scares taxpayer money for this?
Because we are not giving $65 billion of taxpayer money to large multinationals and big banks in the form of unnecessary corporate tax cuts.
It is what Labor does – state and federal: we work together.
We work together, we work to solve problems and we put people first.
That’s what you’re going to get if you vote Labor on the 3rd of March in Tasmania.
It’s now my great pleasure to introduce:
- A champion for your state.
- A warrior for the working class and the middle class of Tasmania.
- And a leader with a vision for the future
Please welcome your friend and mine, the next Premier of Tasmania: Bec White!