House debates

Thursday, 20 March 2008

Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs and Other Legislation Amendment (Emergency Response Consolidation) Bill 2008

Second Reading

1:45 pm

Photo of Peter LindsayPeter Lindsay (Herbert, Liberal Party, Shadow Parliamentary Secretary for Defence) Share this | Hansard source

The member for New England indicates what is happening. In relation to the permit system, why shouldn’t there be openness? The member for Banks was right. You would never get onto the Packer or Murdoch properties, but that is not what is being proposed here. What is being proposed is access to the communal areas of the communities. That is right and proper. I remember that on Palm Island some years ago the community made a big deal about not allowing other Australians onto Palm Island. Fortunately, that changed and, fortunately, the people of the north were able to see the sorts of things that needed to be addressed. So I think that the provisions in this bill are wrong, in the interests of Indigenous Australians.

Seven years into the new millennium, the health of Australian citizens is remarkably uneven. The member for Banks alerted us all to that. He told us that, with the life expectancy of Indigenous men, only 24 per cent were expected to reach the age of 65. That is the unevenness of the health problem in this country. I ask: why? I put the proposition to the parliament that we should focus on the question of why health—as opposed to health care—has special moral importance for social justice in health improvement activities. Some would say that that is a very small distinction, but it is not. People’s health—and not the response and the care that you give—is what we should be focusing on. The focus should be as much on intellectual health and moral health as it is on physical health. Across the world, eminent physicians are coming to the conclusion that the patient comes first and last and that we should be looking at what drives the health of the patient, rather than at the particular disease. In Indigenous communities we see diseases such as alcoholism, domestic violence and so on. We should be focusing on the health of the patient in globo.

I encourage my colleagues in the parliament on both sides to relook at this bill. I ask the government to rethink their position and to think about the good people of Vanuatu and the good people of Indigenous Australia. I ask them to withdraw this bill from House.


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