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Saturday, February 18, 2006

Parties highlight economy, health in first campaign day. 19/02/2006. ABC News Online

Parties highlight economy, health in first campaign day. 19/02/2006. ABC News Online

Tasmanian Premier Paul Lennon has used the first day of election campaigning to highlight the strength of the state's economy.

Mr Lennon was in George Town yesterday to illustrate what he describes as a turnaround in the town's fortunes since Labor came to power.

He pointed to the State Government's decision to invest in the Spirit of Tasmania ferries as one reason why the number of tourists visiting George Town has increased.

Mr Lennon also focussed his emphasis on the importance of stable majority government.

"I'm concerned that if we don't have a majority government after an election on the 18th of March, that Tasmania will turn back and that confidence will fall away and investment will fall away and therefore unemployment will increase," he said.

Both the Greens and Liberals made health announcements yesterday in their first day of campaigning.

Liberal Leader Rene Hidding and the party's health spokeswoman, Sue Napier, launched the $3 million grants program as part of their "Health Solutions Plan" in Hobart yesterday.

The program would see $3 million made available to non-government organisations like Diabetes Australia to run preventative programs.

Ms Napier says the program is part of a broader "Health Solutions Plan" that encompasses many of the party's already announced health policies.

"There's a need for a comprehensive plan to tackle the issues that are impacting on ordinary Tasmanians every day," she said.

"It's about losing nurses and doctors who find it almost impossible to work in such a stressed and basically poorly managed and resourced system."

But State Health Minister David Llewellyn says the Liberals continue to attack health workers and have nothing new to offer.

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Mr Lennon has hit back at Liberal Party advertisements, which he says are part of a campaign against him and his family.

But Mr Hidding says that is not true.

"I would say to Paul Lennon stop raising your family - we're not, you shouldn't," he said.

Mr Lennon was also forced to respond to concerns about the state's workers compensation laws.

It seems that Mr Lennon is not phased by advertisements being run by lawyers and some unions who say workers compensation laws are unfair.

Mr Lennon does not want the ads withdrawn and says it is up to unions whether they support them.

"My door is open to them to discuss these matters out," he said.

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