Today at Government House I was sworn in as Minister for my new portfolios, having accepted the Premier’s request to take on new challenges in the major economic portfolios of State Growth and Infrastructure, in addition to Small Business and my previous portfolio of Science and Technology.

State Growth and Infrastructure are two vital areas for the Hodgman Liberal Government and I am honoured to continue to implement our strong agenda to create and sustain jobs, grow the economy and build essential infrastructure for our state.

When the Premier asked me to take on the health portfolio five years ago, I agreed and promised to work with integrity and to give my best. We’ve achieve a huge amount – we’ve reversed Labor’s savage health cuts, employed more staff, opened all available wards, built more buildings and created much safer services. We’ve also seen demand become a big challenge that together we have worked to tackle head on. We know there is more to be done, and the Hodgman Liberal Government is committed to delivering.

None of these achievements – which are significant and for which I thank our health staff – has ever stopped our political opponents from their shameless blame games and nasty political stunts designed to draw attention from the fact that they have zero policies.

At the 2018 election, the Premier and I agreed that we would find a suitable point during this term for me to pursue new challenges, but that I would continue until then and build our expanded services. This time has come, with the Cabinet reshuffle due to the ill health of my friend and colleague Jacquie Petrusma.

It’s time for fresh eyes and new leadership to take us forward in health and mental health, and I wish Sarah Courtney and Jeremy Rockliff every success with my full support. The combination of their commitment and the professionalism of our health workforce will serve the Tasmanian community well.

In my record five years as Minister for Health, I am grateful to be able to list just a few of our key achievements which we worked hard for:

–              Rescued the Royal Hobart Hospital Redevelopment, from a project that had failed for years without a brick being laid, to nearing completion in coming months.

–              Saved the Mersey Community Hospital and set it up as an elective surgery centre, with the progressive addition of new services such as a Rehabilitation Ward.

–              Fully funded and staffed the North West Cancer Centre and worked with the Morrison Government to secure a second linear accelerator which will increase the capacity to provide cancer care locally on the North West Coast. 

–              Delivered a single state-wide health system, and put in place clear leadership in our hospitals, which we are now leveraging to improve care.

–              Started new services which are saving lives – including Tasmania’s first ever Integrated Aeromedical Helicopter Service, and safer integrated birthing services on the North West Coast.

–              Opened more than 130 additional beds around the State, as well as important community care programs like Rapid Response, with more than 1000 additional staff in our health system compared to when we took over Government.

–              Re-opened Ward 4D at the Launceston General Hospital and added more than 400 additional full-time staff over five years.

–              Delivered more specialist care for Launceston, with the successful recruitment of neurologists, endocrinologists, emergency physicians and many other specialists.

–              Led the nation in protecting Tasmanians with a strong immunisation program (including our meningococcal ACWY vaccination program), which saw record child immunisation rates in Tasmania, and bringing pharmacist vaccinations to Tasmania for the first time ever.

We have set the foundation for major improvements which I have no doubt will serve the Tasmanian community well long into the future.

I have truly enjoyed serving as the Minister for Police, Fire and Emergency Management through what can only be described as a solid period of growth, positive reforms and stronger community support and engagement.

I have delivered our election policies in the war on ice in getting our strong anti-outlaw bikie gang measures through Parliament, rebuilding our police numbers and providing our frontline police officers with latest technology in body worn cameras.

It was also incredible to be part of the professional response by our combined emergency services to the ferocious bushfires which threatened Tasmanian communities last summer. This time gave me an invaluable insight into the absolute commitment to the task at hand – no matter how big or small. I am so grateful that no lives were lost.

I’d like to express my gratitude to everyone I worked with in the portfolios of Health, and Police, Fire and Emergency Management.

I look forward to continuing the good work of the Hodgman Liberal Government in my new portfolios designed to improve our economy and grow jobs for Tasmanians. And I will absolutely continue my dedicated service to Bass and the wonderful people of Tasmania with integrity and my solid work ethic.

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