SUBJECTS: Tasmanian Election; Tasmanian Labor building Child and Family Centre in Latrobe; Investment in Tasmanian health system; Labor’s investment in education; Labor’s plan for a Hobart reproductive health hub.

LEE DIXON, PRESENTER: Rumour has it that politicians are making their way around the state, spruiking their wares. We have the Deputy Leader of the Federal Opposition Tanya Plibersek with us in the studio this morning. Hello to you. 


DIXON: Welcome to Tassie, obviously on the circuit as I said spruiking your wares. Couple of announcements yesterday which have spiked the interest of a number of groups, particularly here on the coast. 

PLIBERSEK: Absolutely. Yesterday in Latrobe we announced a new family and child centre, a child and family centre. They are fantastic centres, they were first established under the last Tasmanian Government. There are twelve of them already and State Labor has announced that they would build another six. And I it's a one-stop shop to help families, so if you've got kids aged  zero to five, there's a lot of conflicting and confusing advice. You can go to these child and family centres, you can get advice on nutrition, on oral healthcare, on immunisation, general healthcare, getting kids ready for school, pre-school, music groups, things like that. Of course, that's fantastic for kids, we know that those years zero to five are the most import in a child’s development but it’s also great support for families as well. 

DIXON: What made you decide to zero in on Latrobe as a location, was there anything at play here?

PLIBERSEK:  It’s a place that's got a growing population, and we know that the transport options aren't always great along the North West. Not all families have two cars, some don't have one car. So putting a child and family centre in Latrobe makes a big difference for the people who are living in Latrobe and the neighbouring communities. 

DIXON: You are touring with Bec White today, and one of your focuses will be on elective surgery. Now we hear wait times can be terrible at times...

PLIBERSEK:  Actually horrendous...

DIXON: Yeah...

PLIBERSEK: One of the people we are talking to today, Bec White, Justine Keay and I will going to meet a lady in East Devonport whose, the way it has been described to me, I haven't met her yet, her brain is pushing down on her spine. It is giving her symptoms like Parkinson’s disease, she can’t walk, she is finding it hard to look after herself, she’s on an elective surgery waiting list, and she shouldn't be. 

DIXON: That to me sounds like, let's get you in tomorrow and prevent this from getting any worse.

PLIBERSEK: Yeah let's get it done. Labor Federally has committed $30 million to slashing the waiting lists. In the North West there is about 630 people on waiting lists. Our extra money would take that waiting list down to about 300. We want to see ladies like this get the treatment they need, when they need it, and our commitment federally obviously comes on top of the $75 million that State Labor has committed to reducing waiting lists, treating more outpatients and so on. So, health, education, infrastructure these are the things that make the biggest difference to people’s lives, and we want to make sure that people are well looked after. 

DIXON: Tanya why is it that we keep hearing about the health system, the ailing health system? If it's such a priority why can't we give this a big boost?


DIXON: Yeah, I understand that. 

PLIBERSEK: We can and we should. 

DIXON: Yeah but why does it take so long? It’s something that will perpetually keep on going so why can't we once and for all give it the funding or the support that it needs to get it right the first time?

PLIBERSEK: I'm going to give you a bit of a politician answer here and I really hate doing that. But I used to be the Federal Health Minister, we put $325 million into the Tasmanian health system, we built three new cancer centres across the North, we fixed up Launceston General with a new acute services; I don't want to get too technical, but we put a lot of money and effort into that, and then Liberal Governments get elected. The Federal Liberal Government has cut $50 billion from health, that's an $11 million cut from the Tasmanian health system immediately, that they want to lock in for the next seven years. You have to have governments that care about this stuff. I've just given you a whole list of numbers, I know that’s really boring - the simple answer is some governments invest in healthcare and some cut healthcare. 

DIXON: Alright well it sounds like you guys are obviously focusing on that particular side of things. We've got Tom here as well who is part of the younger generation, I don’t even want to know what they are calling that generation that you're part of these days Tom, but you’ve got a couple of questions for Tanya?

TOM: Yes, I suppose as someone who is still in the education system, we have seen a few policy promises to make education more affordable, more accessible, so on and so forth so I suppose touching on that, what were some of the main key policies that are being brought to the table?

PLIBERSEK:  Oh fantastic. Well the biggest difference over the next two years, is that the Federal Government has cut $68 million from Tasmanian schools over the next two years alone and Will Hodgman hasn't said 'boo' to that, he's just let that happen. So all the things that I know you like, like pathway planners and more supports in schools, more one on one attention, more opportunities to catch kids who are falling behind and help them catch up, more opportunities for gifted and talented kids to explore their gifts. All of that is a lot harder when you cut $68 million over two years from the school system. So the funding is really important. But we also need to, I really think, give support teachers at school to get the time out to keep learning themselves, be the best teachers they can be. And as a community, there's one thing we always say the government ought to do this the government ought to do that, but as a community I think it's really important that we show that we value teachers and we value education. Parents need to get in there with their kids and support their kids to get a great education because the worlds getting a lot more complicated. There's not going to be many jobs that you can do in the future if you leave school in year 10. We need kids to be staying at school, going to TAFE, going to university, we should do our part as government in properly funding them. Schools should do their part making sure that it's an interesting, great, exciting place to be and families need to do their part in encouraging their kids to study.

DIXON: There we go, couple of things ticked off . Anything else that you want to tell us before you leave today?

PLIBERSEK: We made another announcement yesterday in Hobart which was the million dollar reproductive health centre. We're pretty alarmed, Labor was pretty alarmed, to hear when one abortion clinic closed down you where you used to be able to get an abortion for a few hundred dollars. There’s now only private clinics left where you need about $2,500, which as you can imagine if you just find out that you're pregnant and you don't want to be, it’s hard to find that money; or you have to fly to Melbourne, which is shocking.

DIXON: So you're saying that its cost you an arm and a leg in Tasmania if you want the procedure?

PLIBERSEK: If you want to go to one of the remaining private providers it’s $2,500...

DIXON: Or deal with the stress of hopping on a plane to go through that procedure.

PLIBERSEK: At an incredibly difficult time. People don't make this decision lightly. It's a really tough time. You want your family around you, you want some support around you. You would not send someone on a plane to Melbourne to get a hip replacement.

DIXON: No. So the same goes for that other procedure that we are referring to. OK it will be interesting to see how it all plays out. The election is on March 3, it’s only a matter of days away.

PLIBERSEK: It's very close.

DIXON: And it'll be a close race as well. Deputy Leader of the Federal Opposition Tanya Plibersek, thank you so much for dropping by this morning and putting Tassie on your map.

PLIBERSEK: It's a pleasure.