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"Unacceptable": Labor & Greens slam latest health, housing data

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The opposition parties are queuing up to attack the Gutwein Government over the latest snapshot of health and housing in Tasmania. 

New quarterly dashboard figures show the numer of Tasmanians on the elective surgery waiting list blew out to nearly 11,800 in September - an additional 477 people since June and 1200 since the same time last year.

Only 50 percent of patients are being seen within the recommended timeframe. 

"The Health Dashboard update released today shows the continued demand for health services in Tasmania, including on hospital waiting lists, following a period where service delivery was disrupted by actions taken to respond to and prepare our hospitals for COVID-19," Health Minister Sarah Courtney said.

But Labor and the Greens argue the government can't continue to blame the pandemic for the poor numbers.

“It defies belief that this Minister would think it’s OK that more than 16,200 Tasmanians are waiting to see a dentist, an increase of almost 900 in only a three month period last year," Labor's Shadow Health Minister Sarah Lovell said.

"Particularly concerning is the continued ballooning of the waiting list for urgent surgeries, which now sits at 1,111 people - an increase of 48% in just one year," Greens Leader Cassy O'Connor said. 

"These statistics have been going in the wrong direction for much longer than the pandemic, and are clearly a direct result of a system that hasn’t been given the resources it needs to cope."

Elsewhere, there are now close to 3600 applications on the public housing register - up 220 from the previous reporting period. 

"The figures are consistent with the current COVID-19 climate that is resulting in higher occupancy rates and a very low turnover of properties," Housing Minister Roger Jaensch said.

"We will continue doing everything we can to increase housing stock across the state and help those Tasmanians that need it, which is why the 2020-21 State Budget includes $300 million to deliver new housing and homelessness initiatives." 

It's now taking 63.7 weeks to house priority applicants – a 27% jump in 2020.

“When the Liberals assumed government more than six years ago, the housing wait list was at a record low of 20 weeks and Mr Jaensch and his colleagues have abandoned families in real and often desperate need," Shadow Housing Minister Alison Standen said. 

"Not only are they failing to deliver enough new homes, they’re refusing to tackle the other underlying causes of the housing crisis, like regulating short stay accommodation," Ms O'Connor said.