House debates

Monday, 21 June 2021


Appropriation Bill (No. 1) 2021-2022; Consideration in Detail

11:27 am

Photo of Patrick GormanPatrick Gorman (Perth, Australian Labor Party, Shadow Assistant Minister for Western Australia) Share this | Hansard source

Throughout this pandemic, aged-care residents and aged-care workers have been at the greatest risk of COVID-19 infection, but we still have large concerns about the rollout of the vaccine in these facilities. Last year, 335,889 Australians used some form of aged care. The federal government is the primary regulator and funder of this system. Last year, it spent $21.2 billion on aged care. At the same time, we had a royal commission telling us that the system is woefully inadequate. When it comes to the rollout of the vaccine, again, it is woefully inadequate in what has happened and, indeed, not happened in aged care.

I've put on notice questions to the minister about the rollout of the vaccination program in my electorate. Having not received answers to those questions yet, I'm going to ask them here again. On what date were residents in each of the aged-care facilities in the Perth electorate first offered a vaccine for COVID-19? On what date were staff in each of the aged-care facilities in the Perth electorate offered a vaccine? What percentage of residents in each of the aged-care facilities in Perth are fully vaccinated, and what percentage of staff in each of the aged-care facilities in the electorate of Perth are fully vaccinated? We know that there is huge community concern about the rollout of this vaccination program, and every time we look closer we are more disappointed and we find out that there are more and more gaps in this system.

The other big gap is in the quarantine system, which we are continuing to pretend is fine. Hotel quarantine in the CBD is no longer acceptable. It was a good emergency response but, more than a year into this pandemic, we need something smarter and safer than hotel quarantine. It's the businesses and communities in my electorate in the Perth CBD who are hit worst when we have leaks out of the hotel quarantine system, and we know there will be more leaks. So I would also like the minister to explain: why did the budget contain no additional funding for new national quarantine facilities? Is the minister actively considering the proposal from Perth Airport to have a quarantine system on the grounds of Perth Airport? Is the minister talking to his colleague the defence minister about using RAAF Base Learmonth as an alternative location or seriously considering the proposals from the state government to use somewhere such as Busselton, close to Busselton Margaret River Airport, to provide proper quarantine facilities for Western Australia?

On a note of curiosity, as I came in here, I saw the report about the Prime Minister doing some private tourist business while he was attending the G7. We saw the Prime Minister doing private tourist business while on an official government trip. I'd be interested if the health minister can explain how we can have one rule for millions of Australians and a different rule for the Prime Minister to be able to go to a pub, visit family and track his family history. I'd be interested to know if the health minister was aware of this, whether the health minister gave any advice, whether any of the chief medical officers or any of the health officials were aware the Prime Minister wasn't just planning to attend the G7 but was also planning to go on a holiday in the United Kingdom in the middle of a global pandemic.

When it comes to mental health, I think we all need to know where all these new headspace clinics that were announced in the budget are going to be. The minister would know right now where they are intending to put those headspace clinics. There is a clear need in my electorate in Perth to have a headspace centre located in the Perth CBD. Currently, my constituents are forced to go to either Midland or Osbourne Park, and we know we have a large number of young people who need that mental health support somewhere that's easy for them to access.

Finally, when it comes to the importance of universal health care, I, like many in this parliament, have benefited from a world-class public health system. I was a chronic asthmatic as a child, in and out of the Fremantle emergency department more times than I can count. I'll always defend having a proper universal health system. So why is it that we've got these sneaky, unclear almost 1,000 changes to the Medicare Benefits Schedule, where we don't have the full detail released by the minister—again, the minister has these details and he could release more detail. Why hasn't it been released? What items have been cut? What impact will it have on public hospitals in Western Australia? Does the budget fully reflect the changes you are planning to make to Medicare?


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