FERGO ‘NEEDS REST’: HICKEY

Mercury (Hobart) - - FRONT PAGE - EMILY BAKER RE­PORTS

LIB­ERAL Speaker Sue Hickey says Health Min­is­ter Michael Fer­gu­son “might just need a rest, or … [to] get a bit more help” as pres­sure mounts on the Govern­ment to inject more cash into the hos­pi­tal sys­tem.

Speaker Sue Hickey I think Michael prob­a­bly needs ... to work closer with the Premier and his cabinet

— SUE HICKEY

LIB­ERAL MHA Sue Hickey has sug­gested Health Min­is­ter Michael Fer­gu­son “might just need a rest, or … [to] get a bit more help” as pres­sure mounts on the Govern­ment to inject more cash into the state’s trou­bled health sys­tem.

The Par­lia­men­tary Speaker said Mr Fer­gu­son was in a “ter­ri­ble po­si­tion” and has called on the Govern­ment to re­lieve him of his other port­fo­lios so he can give health his full at­ten­tion.

Ms Hickey first raised the is­sue in the Mer­cury’s Talk­ing Point pages ear­lier this week and, speaking to ABC ra­dio yes­ter­day, she added Mr Fer­gu­son “prob­a­bly does need to change the way he re­lates to peo­ple to some ex­tent”.

“Michael is very strong on his ideas and I do be­lieve he’s do­ing his very best but that doesn’t mean that that’s the right out­come,” she said.

“I think ev­ery sin­gle day for 10 months hav­ing health as the front page or a very se­ri­ous is­sue in the news­pa­per is a worry for ev­ery­body.

“I think Michael prob­a­bly needs a sig­nif­i­cant mini-bud­get in­jec­tion of cash to con­tinue through… and I think he prob­a­bly needs to work closer with the Premier and his cabinet, and the cabinet need to sup­port him.”

Ms Hickey stepped away from the Lib­eral party line af­ter Royal Ho­bart Hos­pi­tal staff on Tues­day com­plained the fa­cil­ity had suf­fered its worst day this year.

Premier Will Hodg­man has thrown his sup­port be­hind Mr Fer­gu­son de­spite re­peated calls from the Op­po­si­tion for the Health Min­is­ter to re­sign.

Greens leader Cassy O’Con­nor backed Ms Hickey’s call for Mr Fer­gu­son to shed his other port­fo­lios.

“We think Michael Fer­gu­son’s work­load is far too heavy, but that doesn’t ex­cuse him ... he had four years to un­der­take those sig­nif­i­cant struc­tural changes that we know need to be taken,” Ms O’Con­nor said.

Ms Hickey has also called on all sides of pol­i­tics to col­lab­o­rate on new so­lu­tions to the state’s woes — and stop blam­ing each other when things go wrong.

“I’m not say­ing noth­ing’s be­ing done, I’m say­ing a lot’s be­ing done but is it be­ing done strate­gi­cally or is it a re­ac­tion to the lat­est press re­lease,” she said.

“Health is such a mas­sive thing, it’s clearly in cri­sis, the Premier has agreed to that.

“It’s time now to have a more col­lab­o­ra­tive ap­proach.”

Ms Hickey said none of her col­leagues had con­tacted her since she first spoke on the is­sue to the Mer­cury.

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