Tas parties to wage election war on health

Callum GoddeAAP
Tasmania's election campaign is focussing on health leadership and investment, amid staff shortages.
Camera IconTasmania's election campaign is focussing on health leadership and investment, amid staff shortages. Credit: AAP

Tasmanian Premier Peter Gutwein is standing on his health record as Labor mounts an election attack.

Health policy is shaping as a key campaign battleground as the incumbent Liberal state government attempts to retain power at the May 1 poll.

The Tasmanian branch of the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation has revealed 900 shifts remain unfilled in the projected April roster at the Royal Hobart Hospital.

But pressed on the staff shortage, Mr Gutwein said his government had added 1500 more nurses, doctors and allied health professionals since ending 16 years of Tasmanian Labor rule at the 2014 election.

"In terms of the effort that has been applied to health, we've done more than any other government previously," he told reporters at Bridport in the state's northeast.

"Under the previous Labor-Greens government, they slashed health ... we've repaired it, we've rebuilt it and we've invested in it.

"There'll always be more to do in health. I acknowledge that and over the course of this campaign, we'll be announcing a very strong health policy."

While pledging $500,000 to build a new park in the Hobart suburb of Gagebrook, Labor leader Rebecca White needled the government on the state's elective surgery waiting list.

"50,000 Tasmanians are waiting to get a procedure or to even get on the waiting list," she told reporters on Sunday.

She flagged Labor would make further announcements on housing and health before Tasmanians head to the polls.

After a year dominated by the COVID-19 pandemic, the major parties are backing the credentials of their top picks for the state's health portfolio.

Mr Gutwein bristled on Sunday after Ms White noted Health Minister Sarah Courtney was a small business owner, describing the comments as a "low blow".

"To suggest that because Ms Courtney is a small business owner and owns a vineyard, she cannot be health minister is ridiculous," the premier said in a statement.

But Ms White defended her remarks, saying she was simply comparing Ms Courtney's resume to that of Labor's shadow health spokesman, Huon MP Dr Besson Seidel.

"He's been a GP in Tasmania for 10 years, he's been the president of the (Royal) Australian College of GPs," she said.

"He has extensive knowledge in the health sector and that's what we need to fix Tasmania's health crisis."

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