House debates

Monday, 2 May 2016

Questions without Notice

Dental Health

2:58 pm

Photo of Sussan LeySussan Ley (Farrer, Liberal Party, Minister for Health) Share this | Hansard source

Thank you to the member for Ballarat for her question. Thank you to the Prime Minister for the opportunity to answer because it gives me an opportunity to talk about the coalition's policy for a child and adult dental benefit service. The public national scheme that should have been introduced by Labor—but never was—legislated for the long-term, locked in with the states and territories, doubling the funding to those states and territories, treating 600,000 more patients a year and a truly public scheme.

Let us contrast that with Labor's scheme. Labor did have a scheme called the child dental benefit scheme. It was the member for Sydney's scheme and she was very excited when she announced it and she said it would treat three million children. But the other day the opposition spokesperson stood up and admitted that it had only treated one million children. It had, in fact, only reached 30 per cent of the children it was targeting—so what we have done is fix up another Labor mess in public dental, because we recognise that a truly public dental scheme looks after every child and looks after low-income concessional adults. As I said, this scheme will reach 600,000 more patients a year.


Tibor Majlath
Posted on 4 May 2016 7:50 am (Report this comment)

You have to ask how is it that the Minister ignored her own department's report entitled "Third Review of the Dental Benefits Act 2008" dated 17 December 2015 which states :-

"In particular, the Panel noted the success of the CDBS in targeting the oral health of young Australians at an age where preventative measures can be most effective. ... The Panel agreed that it would make clear recommendations to Government to ensure the ongoing success and effectiveness of the CDBS."

It was a success and effective. NOT according to the Minister. Instead we get the usual diatribe about the evil Labor Party. The Minister complains that Labor's plan was targeted at 3 million children, "But the other day the opposition spokesperson stood up and admitted that it had only treated one million children." Does this mean the plan was an utter failure?

Not according to the Minister's department report which has this to say :-

"In the first year of implementation (2014), 3,062,309 children were notified of their eligibility for the CDBS. Of these, 898,797 (29.4 per cent) accessed the programme. As at 30 June 2015, a total of 2,944,413 children had become eligible for the CDBS and been notified of their eligibility. Of these children, 568,997 (19.3 per cent) had accessed the programme. If this rate continues for the remainder of the year, the annual utilization rate in 2015 is projected to be higher than in 2014."

The Minister's take on the situation is again at odds with her own department :-

"The Panel noted that this utilization rate was considerably lower than originally projected, but was of the view that this may reflect an unrealistic original target, rather than significant underutilization."

Shameful waste of question time.

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