Bizarre mafia, porkbarreling claims over THO relocation

THERE is nothing more hilarious than someone making a totally parochial statement while simultaneously claiming not to be parochial.

Enter exhibit A - Andrew Wilkie.

How could Health Minister Michael Ferguson possibly base the single Tasmanian Health Organisation in Launceston? What was he thinking?

Perhaps the fact that the Northern THO was the best performed and not mired in bureaucratic controversy was a contributing factor.

Perhaps the fact that Launceston is indeed geographically central to the state's four public hospitals was another factor.

Perhaps the fact that technology allows people to work in various locations, rather than just "the capital" and that this decision actually represents the decentralisation of Tasmania's population.

No, absolutely not in the eyes of the verbose independent member for Denison.

In fact, Mr Wilkie dug deep into his bag of political insults to claim, "This is the Launceston mafia hijacking public health planning in Tasmania . . . it is parochialism gone mad."

Phew, who on earth is the "Launceston mafia" and from where did Mr Wilkie pluck this gem?

We will do our best to hunt them down and bring them to justice Mr Wilkie because not basing public service jobs in your electorate of Denison is clearly a mafia gangland crime - or would that be just plain parochialism?

And, just for good measure he threw in that basing the THO, "in Launceston of all places" was ludicrous and that people in Northern Tasmania needed to understand that "Hobart is the state's capital" and it is "the centre of administration and the seat of government".

Yes Mr Wilkie we do understand that all those years ago some misguided settlers in wooden sailing boats made the mistake of making Hobart the capital and Northern Tasmanians have been paying for it ever since.

We also know that the previous state government's navel gazing at the "seat of government" cost it seats in the engineroom Northern electorates (or should that read outposts).

Of course any self-respecting politicians must be above parochialism: "this isn't about North versus South, not from me" Mr Wilkie opined earnestly before going on to describe it as "pork-barreling on an industrial scale".

One can only wonder how streamlining the THO system and cutting $21 million from its running expenses constitutes pork-barreling.

That normally only occurs when a politician has the balance of power and manages to politically persuade a government into looking after that politician in return for his/her support for three years.

One only has to look at Victoria with government departments and entities being established in Geelong, Ballarat and Bendigo to see that decentralisation is not a dirty word.

The state government is about to set up the office of State Co-ordinator General in Launceston and the federal government's Major Projects Approval Agency is also being established in Launceston.

Mr Wilkie, it appears your work in this area is far from done. How could Joe Hockey and Will Hodgman possibly ignore the capital of Denison, Glenorchy, as the location for these public service jobs.

Maybe the mysterious "Launceston mafia" got to them as well.

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