House debates

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Questions without Notice

Health Care

2:53 pm

Photo of Shayne NeumannShayne Neumann (Blair, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

My question is to the Minister for Health. Will the minister update the House on the government's plan for strengthening Australia's health care system. How will the government continue to tackle future health challenges? What are the obstacles to this?

2:54 pm

Photo of Tanya PlibersekTanya Plibersek (Sydney, Australian Labor Party, Minister for Health) Share this | | Hansard source

I want to thank the member for Blair, who is a very strong advocate for better health services in his electorate, including better cancer care in his electorate. We believe that this country has an excellent health system—an excellent health system that can be made better—and we are working every single day to make it better.

In dental, for example, we have just invested an extra $4 billion that will mean 3.4 million children will grow up being able to see a dentist as easily as they can now see a GP. And we have put extra money into public dental services, too. We have introduced plain packaging—a world first. We have introduced Gardasil vaccination for girls as well as boys—also a world first. We have expanded bowel cancer screening and there is $20 billion extra for hospitals. We also have world-leading Medicare Local organisations.

What do we get from those opposite?—obviously, no vision, no ideas and constant negativity. The only thing we have heard from the shadow minister lately is that he is going to cut health jobs just like his mates in Queensland. Medicare Locals are the next big step in primary health care. Medicare Locals employ doctors, nurses, allied health professionals, psychologists, Aboriginal health workers, social workers and others. They provide services like GPs after hours, psychology, childhood immunisation and allied health services in rural and regional areas. They build on what GPs have always done, but they do it in a way that is coordinated and locally driven—local solutions for local healthcare gaps.

They deliver solutions such as, in Blair, with the West Moreton-Oxley Medicare Local working with locals to provide the first after-hours service in Fernvale; or the Lower Murray Medicare Local, which teamed up with the Royal Flying Doctor Service to help transport Indigenous people with chronic conditions in remote communities to medical appointments. Why does the Leader of the Opposition want to stop that?

Greater Metro South Brisbane Medicare Local partnered with Mater Health Services and Micah Projects to make sure that homeless people get decent care. Why does the Leader of the Opposition want to stop that? The shadow minister's own Metro North Brisbane Medicare Local has GP services for homeless people and a mobile dental van. Why do those opposite want to stop this? They want to stop this because they have always hated Medicare and they will stop the next front in the rollout of Medicare services. They come in here with an amendment. Their amendment is a $3½ million rebranding exercise. That is not policy; it is an expensive mistake.