RHH project `a hell of a mess'

Michael Ferguson.
Michael Ferguson.

HEALTH Minister Michael Ferguson has claimed that the Royal Hobart Hospital redevelopment is in crisis after being left in "a hell of a mess" by the former state government.

Mr Ferguson said he had sought an urgent update on the project soon after being sworn into office, and was appalled by the findings.

"The whole project is suffering right now and there's a great crisis of confidence that has emerged," Mr Ferguson said.

"Labor and the Greens told Tasmanians that everything was OK, on time, on budget: in fact nothing could be further from the truth."

He said the project was tens of millions of dollars over budget and more than a year behind schedule.

Mr Ferguson said half of a $43 million contingency fund had been spent before a single brick had been laid.

"The project is in a terrible situation and as for what we'll do about it, I'll be seeking additional urgent advice from our departments and from Treasury," he said.

"We will be taking this matter to cabinet."

Former health minister Michelle O'Byrne denied claims that her government handled the project poorly.

Ms O'Byrne said that although issues arose during the redevelopment, they had already been addressed.

"The Auditor-General in fact did a review that was released in January," Ms O'Byrne said.

"The Auditor-General found that there were issues with governance and there were issues with the progress, but also found that the department had taken the necessary action to put that back on track."

Independent Denison MHR Andrew Wilkie said the project had been plagued by problems."The hospital should be half-built by now and they've barely started," he said. "If we don't see strong and effective leadership from the new government, they will be just as responsible as their predecessors."