Political trio field forum questions

POLITICAL leaders fielded questions on their plans for palliative care, mental health, preventative health, exercise physiology and health literacy at a forum at Launceston General Hospital last night.

But initially it seemed that Health Minister Michelle O'Byrne, opposition health spokesman Jeremy Rockliff and Greens health spokesman Paul O'Halloran would spend the night addressing pulp mill concerns.

The Australasian College of Health Service Management hosted the political candidates at Launceston General Hospital, in a forum attended by about 80 health sector staff and community members.

The night's first two questions came from a respiratory physician and a structural social worker, concerned by the health impacts of a pulp mill.

Mr Rockliff both said there would be real-time monitoring of pulp mill emissions, while Ms O'Byrne said that "all the regulatory bodies that should be in place, will be in place", and Mr O'Halloran said he shared the questioners' concerns.

Asked by The Heart Foundation chief executive Graeme Lynch to commit to a state policy guiding the inclusion of healthy spaces and places in new infrastructure, Ms O'Byrne and Mr O'Halloran - who had already publicly committed - agreed.

Mr Rockliff said the Liberals were committed to a health-in-all-policies, state- wide approach to preventative health, and would release their health promotion and disease prevention policy in coming days.

Mental Health chief executive Darren Carr asked why Labor's mental health policy included "a slight enhancement in just one area", rather than a total or partial review of the system as proposed by the Liberals and the Greens.

Ms O'Byrne said the party's additional funding to child and adolescent mental health services was "quite significant", and a review wasn't necessary.


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