Thursday, 1 August 2019
Appropriation Bill (No. 1) 2019-2020, Appropriation Bill (No. 2) 2019-2020, Appropriation (Parliamentary Departments) Bill (No. 1) 2019-2020; Second Reading
One of the things that's become clear in the weeks since the election is that this government has no vision for providing services to the Blue Mountains and Hawkesbury. They have no vision for providing health services. And not only do they have no vision but they have no interest. Hawkesbury Hospital has had no federal government investment in the last six years, no capital investment. Labor committed $2.5 million to assist with upgrades. This hospital could do with a whole range of things, including upgrading its emergency department. The population around the hospital and the number of people who come to the hospital are growing, and the state government has failed to get any construction under way to meet that growing need. So guess who bears the brunt of it? Hawkesbury Hospital. While $2.5 million could make a difference, there's not a cent committed by those opposite. If they wanted to have a vision for the Blue Mountains and the Hawkesbury, that would be one place to start.
The next place to go would be Nepean Hospital. While outside of the electorate of Macquarie, many people who live in my electorate work at that hospital and it is our largest major centre. Labor committed to a world-leading cancer centre at Nepean Hospital, had we won government. That's a vision for what our community needs, particularly as the whole population of the west grows. That's something else this government could adopt and we would be thrilled to work with them on that, and I'd be very happy to work with the member for Lindsay in pursuing that.
The other thing our community needs is MRI. There is not a single MRI machine in my entire electorate—4,000 square kilometres and not one. There's one in Calare, the neighbouring electorate, that the people in my community sometimes access, miles and miles away, or they have to go to Penrith. More than that, I had an email from one of my Kurrajong residents who told me she has to travel a long way from home to get to it. Some people have to go to the North Shore or eastern suburbs of Sydney to get an MRI in the time they need it. We made a commitment that, if Labor won government, we would put an MRI in the public hospital at Katoomba and that would be a start.
There is also a need for an MRI machine in the Hawkesbury. There is no MRI between Penrith, Rouse Hill and Lithgow. It's a huge expanse. And all that's happening at a time when this government gives a lucrative MRI licence to a clinic in Adelaide operated by the vice-president of the South Australian Liberal Party, in spite of one being within five kilometres of that clinic. Maybe that's what we did wrong in the Blue Mountains and the Hawkesbury.
Health is not being served by this government. There is no vision for it. Mental health is another area where there is scant attention paid. The Morrison government committed to a satellite headspace service to look after young people with mental health needs in Katoomba. That is going to barely scratch the surface. Our commitment was for a full-service headspace—that's one with wrap-around services. They are so important for young people when they have an early diagnosis of mental illness or when they have a general feeling of being mentally unwell. This is where we can actually make a significant difference, so to see the commitment for a satellite service is incredibly disappointing for our community. And what's more, there was not a single mention of the Hawkesbury, a huge expanse of area with an unmet need and an unrecognised need in official terms for youth mental health. But we know on the ground that the needs are really high, so Labor's commitment was $5.5 million. If this government came along in a bipartisan way to work on that $5.5 million, we could make a significant difference for young people.
As well as mental health services and hospital services, there's another area where this government has no vision—that is, services to help women who have managed to escape from domestic violence. Labor's commitment was for a $1.2 million capital investment to buy a property. People who've worked in this sector in the Hawkesbury for up to 30 years have said to me this is something that's been missing in all those 30 years. They need a home that could be short- and medium-term accommodation for a couple of families, to give them a chance to be able to re-establish their life back in the Hawkesbury rather than a have to leave and move to Penrith or move to other parts of Western Sydney, simply because there is no accommodation available for women and their children in these circumstances. People actually want to be able to re-establish back where their network is. They may have to temporarily leave but they want to come home and they should be able to come home, back to their family, back to their friends, and back to their support networks. These are the sorts of things this government could do, if it really wanted to invest in the Hawkesbury and the Blue Mountains. I know it's really easy to say, 'Well, you didn't win the election and you made lots of commitments.' That's true, but it isn't actually about me. People in my community are entitled to vote for the person they want to represent them, but every single government has a responsibility to deliver the services that people need in the areas where they live. I'm happy to work with this government to see if there is something we can do on a bipartisan basis, though, frankly, I have little hope for that. It's been six years of Liberals, six years of neglect, six years in which the Blue Mountains and Hawkesbury have seen very little.