Question Time sees Ferguson grilled over mental health beds

It was Health Minister Michael Ferguson’s turn to be grilled by the Opposition during Wednesday’s Question Time, after Child Protection Minister Jacquie Petrusma was put under pressure on Tuesday.

Opposition Leader Rebecca White told the house that the Royal Hobart Hospital had lost accreditation from the Royal Australian & New Zealand College of Psychiatrists, because of its insufficient number of acute mental health beds.

Minister Ferguson said Labor’s claim that the government had cut 10 mental health beds at the RHH was untrue.

But Franklin Greens MHA Rosalie Woodruff said the RHH would this afternoon lose two to three psychiatric registrars as a result of its RANZCP accreditation being removed.

The Health Minister disputed this claim, saying the Tasmanian Health Service would work with RANZCP to secure the best possible outcome going forward.

He also alleged that Labor had once planned to make it so the RHH had zero mental health beds.

Premier Will Hodgman, meanwhile, got up to extol the perceived virtues of mandatory minimum sentencing, something his government has sought to introduce for a number of serious crimes.

“We don’t apologise for standing up for the victims of crime,” Mr Hodgman said.

In the lead-up to the Reconciliation Council of Tasmania’s launch in Hobart, Greens leader Cassy O’Connor asked the Premier how he could pursue the cause of reconciliation while opening up four-wheel-drive tracks in the Tarkine, a region rich with indigenous heritage.

Mr Hodgman assured the Greens leader that there had been extensive consultation with indigenous stakeholders over the increased access for four-wheel-drives.

“We’re committed to ensuring that aboriginal heritage is protected,” he said.

Police Minister Rene Hidding took pleasure in informing the chamber that the Hodgman government would seek to amend the Sentencing Act to introduce mandatory minimum sentences for assaults on off-duty police officers.

He said the government was determined to “better protect those who protect us”.