Wednesday 23 May 2018
Hansard of the Legislative Council


Mr FINCH (Rosevears) - Mr President, for some people the concept of progress is two steps forward and one step back.  However, for this Health minister, it is three steps back, and that is being charitable, and with this bill, there may be one step forward.  It is good the minister is holding his Health portfolio for another term, to fix what he broke in the previous term.  This bill suggests the Government wants to have it both ways with health service management.  The minister said in the House of Assembly -

Health policy and planning is not a 'set and forget' process.  We must constantly refine our strategy to ensure that we are building on those things that are going well and addressing any issues that arise.

That is why we are now moving to strike the right balance between the ability to set strategy and direction in health for the whole state, as well as giving local facilities better capacity for local decision‑making to deliver high-quality services to patients and solve local problems as they arise.  This bill lays those foundations.

Note 'giving local facilities better capacity for local decision making'.  It is also important to note, as the minister puts it, that the role of the chief executive officer and the governing council will not continue.  I see a big back flip there.  Surely not a return to some regional autonomy?  Another quote seems to back a return to more local management -

The THS governing council and chief executive officer position are not continued under the bill.  The THS will be managed by an executive of State Service officers appointed by the secretary.  The executive will be responsible to the secretary for the administration and management of the THS and the performance of the THS, with specific functions including ensuring management structures support local operational decision-making.

One other quote that supports the argument -

The secretary is currently consulting across the Tasmanian Health Service on changes that need to be made to support local decision-making. 

Then there is a list of those local organisations he has been dealing with, which is very fulsome.  A move back to local autonomy is to be welcomed, but why was it stripped away in the first place?  The then Liberal opposition made a promise in 2014 that the three Tasmanian health organisations would remain.  What happened?  As soon as the Liberal government was elected, they were abolished and we had four years of virtual chaos.  This bill goes some way to correct that.  I support it as the beginning, at last, of a step forward for the Tasmanian Health Service.