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10 years of Labor failure in Health

Jul 25, 2012

Martin Hamilton-Smith MP

Shadow Minister for Health & Ageing
Shadow Minister for Mental Health
Shadow Minister for Substance Abuse


10 years of Labor failure in Health 

The Weatherill Government’s credibility is in tatters after revelations that within two weeks of denials by senior Ministers of secret plans for cuts to the Health Budget, they are about to announce massive budget and job cuts.

“Yesterday Minister Hill foreshadowed three reports into savage cuts to Health after both he and Treasurer Snelling denied publicly and in Parliament that secret cuts were being planned,” Shadow Minister for Health Martin Hamilton-Smith said.

“Yesterday, Minister Hill said that the cuts he is about to make ‘would be difficult and we will face some tough choices’. But on the 10th of July he denied Opposition assertions that he was building on the work of the Sustainable Budget Commission (SBC) to cut jobs and funding.

“Treasurer Snelling said in a media release on the same day ‘Liberal claims of secret plans of cuts highlighted in the Sustainable Budget Commission report are simply wrong’.

“It now appears that both Ministers’ earlier denials were wrong and that while they were being made, both Ministers were aware of three reports being secretly prepared without proper consultation with doctors, nurses and stakeholder groups.

“Clearly the three new reports have referenced two versions of Labor’s Sustainable Budget Commission, one leaked on a USB stick and a different version posted on a website.

“The media reports have articulated union concerns that around 700 jobs are set to go.

“The reports must be released today. Speculation is being fuelled by the Minister’s mishandling of this entire matter.

“Other cuts earmarked by Labor through the different versions of its SBC report include:

•    Privatization and divestment of hospital car parks
•    Privatization of hospital cafes and retail outlets
•    Sale of Medvet operations
•    Disposal of buildings and assets
•    Closure of up to 17 low volume country hospitals
•    A reduction in outpatient services at hospitals
•    Reducing support to private hospitals and cessation of service contracts
•    Transfer of community recovery centres to non-government organisations
•    Service reductions at the Queen Elizabeth and Noarlunga Hospitals
•    Review of office leasing arrangements
•    Cuts to capital works at the Modbury Hospital (approved by Public Works today)
•    Cuts to medical imaging, biomedical engineering
•    Cuts to central sterile supply department functions
•    Cuts to the Repatriation General Hospital and possible closure
•    Corporate service reforms
•    Cuts and administrative efficiencies to the SA Ambulance Service

“A meeting of the Public Works Committee of Parliament heard evidence today of Labor’s broken election promise to construct a 36 bed rehabilitation inpatient facility if re-elected. The plan is now delayed five years and will not be completed until 2018.

“Labor’s Budget also announced that the Queen Elizabeth Hospital Stage 3A development would be delayed until 2015-16 saving $48 million (Budget Paper 5, p. 9).

“Health finished last financial year $125 million in the red and must not repeat that mistake this year while finding a further $117 million of savings: a $242 million turnaround.

“Parliament has been told that Minister Hill failed to complete 446.9 full-time equivalent (FTE) job reductions last financial year, achieving only 72. 5.

“Earlier this year, the Auditor-General produced a damning report into Health Minister Hill’s portfolio management which has seen millions spent on bungled IT projects, financial accounting mistakes and a host of management failures.

“We have a part-time Minister who doubles up as the Arts Minister attending operas and ballets while Health finances simmer in turmoil.

“The narrative that has led to this point is one of a government and a Minister who’s Health Budget was rescued each year by buoyant financial surpluses funded by burgeoning GST and property tax revenues in the boom years.

“In recent years financial conditions have tightened. The Minister, the Treasurer, the Premier and his Cabinet have all been caught out. These cuts are the result of their failure.

“This also exposes the folly of Labor’s decision to spend $12 to $13 billion over 35 years to move the Royal Adelaide Hospital.

“This financial mismanagement could have been avoided if ministers and managers were made to take responsibility for their actions,” Mr Hamilton-Smith said.

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