UNIVERSITY of Tasmania midwifery lecturer Lynne Staff saw the best of Prime Minister Kevin Rudd yesterday.
Mr Rudd met Ms Staff as he was given a tour of the university's school of nursing at Launceston, which will be at the heart of the proposed $83.5 million Northern health education, training and research facility.
Ms Staff was working with the model baby that nursing and midwifery students use for training which is so real that it has pulses and will change colour if it suffers a drop in temperature.
Ms Staff has been a nurse and midwife for more than 30 years and has been at the University of Tasmania school for the past couple as midwifery co-ordinator and lecturer for the graduate diploma program.
She told Mr Rudd that one of her previous jobs was at the Selangor private hospital, in Nambour - Mr Rudd's home town - where she helped set up the maternity unit.
She was momentarily lost for words when Mr Rudd replied that it happened to be the hospital where he was born.
Mr Rudd paid a brief visit to the university at Launceston to confirm that a Labor federal government would provide $28 million over four years towards the cost of a proposed Northern regional health hub as part of the university.
Mr Rudd said the new precinct would train nearly 700 more health students every year, create 345 new jobs during construction and more than 70 new, ongoing jobs once completed.
``New industries generating up to 500 new jobs are expected to emerge from this initiative, including those based on solutions to chronic disease, lifestyle and physical activity, disability and ageing and those based on technologies such as tele-health and e-health,'' Mr Rudd said.
University vice-chancellor Peter Rathjen, who was not at the federal announcement, said the proposed Northern health initiative would provide immediate stimulus and jobs as well as build the health workforce that would be desperately required in the future.
Tasmanian Greens Senator Peter Whish-Wilson welcomed federal Labor's funding commitment.
``An allied health and sport precinct of excellence at the university has huge potential for Launceston,'' Senator Whish-Wilson said.
``But Labor's cuts to higher education put up to 150 jobs at risk in Tasmania.
``If Mr Rudd genuinely wants to stand up for the university and boost Tasmanian jobs in the high education sector he must commit to reverse Labor's university cuts.''
Mr Rudd said the Labor government had invested heavily in the Tasmanian university campus in 2007-08.
He also avoided answering a question about at least 150 applicants for money from the last forestry intergovernmental agreement compensation round.
It is believed that they missed out on the assessment process, which saw less than 30 successful individual applicants announced on Mr Rudd's last visit to Northern Tasmania.
``On the detail of how those various applications were considered, I am not in a position to comment,'' Mr Rudd said.