Transcripts

ABC NORTHERN TASMANIA: 29/04/2022

April 29, 2022

MARK BUTLER MP
SHADOW MINISTER FOR HEALTH AND AGEING
MEMBER FOR HINDMARSH

 
E&OE TRANSCRIPT
RADIO INTERVIEW

ABC NORTHERN TASMANIA
FRIDAY, 29 APRIL 2022


SUBJECTS: Labor’s Commitment to a Hospice in Northern Tasmania

 

BELINDA KING, HOST: For the past 14 to 15 years there's been a group of people in Northern Tasmania who have been lobbying all sides of government with one focused wish, one main desire, for a standalone dedicated hospice based in Launceston. It hasn't happened. There have been various commitments made at various times, but none of them have been able to come to fruition. Is it a possibility that it might come out of the current Federal election campaign and the decision as to who will lead the government for the next three years? Mark Butler is Shadow Minister for Health and Ageing and he joins us this morning. Mark, good morning.

MARK BUTLER, SHADOW MINISTER HEALTH AND AGEING: Good morning, Belinda.

KING: Good to catch up with you again. There's been a bit of a long term struggle here in Launceston in regards to having a standalone dedicated hospice, and it's something that has been on and off the radar for both sides of the political divide for a long time. I believe you've got something you'd like to tell us this morning.

BUTLER: That's right, I've talked with the Friends of the Northern Hospice for some time now. I happened to be in Launceston when Rebecca White made a commitment about a dedicated hospice facility here at the last state election, so I've been aware of this issue and the extraordinary dedication and persistence of this wonderful community group fighting for a dedicated hospice here in Northern Tasmania, particularly after the closure of Philip Oakden 15 years ago.

I'm very pleased to announce with Ross Hart this morning that a Federal Labor Government would deliver $5 million, which is what we understand is needed to kickstart the capital development of this project, as a sign of our goodwill to work with the state government to make this a reality.

KING: Right, so this would be literally seed funding, start-up capital, to get those conversations moving. It's not going to fund the entire hospice, I imagine, but it would at least get the ball rolling.

BUTLER: What we think is it will fund the building of it. Obviously, then we have to work with the state government about the operation of the hospice. My understanding here is that we've got a slightly more receptive ear from the new Premier then maybe we had in the past. I hope that is the case, and if we are lucky enough to win the election, I'd be very keen to work with the Tasmanian State Government to make this a reality because I am convinced, having talked with people in this area for some time now about this project, that there is a need for a dedicated hospice facility.

KING: I'm aware Mark Butler, that Launceston is not the only place around Australia that has been reaching out for support for hospice facilities. They really do form an important part of an overall health plan.

BUTLER: They really do. I mean, in my own electorate we had a dedicated hospice facility in Port Adelaide close down and it and it caused enormous heartache to the local community. I think a rich, privileged country like Australia should be able to offer families a safe birth for their children and a dignified death for people at the end of life. We perform pretty well internationally in terms of what people describe as the quality of death in international studies, generally seen as in the top one or two countries in the world, but we do need hospice facilities. They're not just hospital wards with a different name at the door. They're really quite different facilities that are very family centred, not just centred on the needs of the patient, but centred on the needs of the whole family who are going through the experience of someone dying.

KING: So you see the way forward as to work cooperatively with a Liberal Tasmanian state government to deliver this space?

BUTLER: And obviously other health providers who are involved in this, and The Friends. The Friends of Northern Hospice have earned a seat at the table. They've worked so hard for this. If we're able to deliver them something for their local community, I think just the engagement they've had with people in Launceston and surrounding areas, the thought that they've put into this, the experience that I know a number of members of the group have in palliative care or end of life care, means they need to be at the table as well.

KING: We’ll know come May 21 whether or not this promise can be delivered upon, and a hospice be forthcoming for the Launceston area. I know that Friends of Northern Hospice will be beside themselves this morning. Thank you very much for joining us to share that news.

BUTLER: My pleasure Belinda

KING: Mark Butler with us this morning.

 

ENDS

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