House debates

Thursday, 30 October 2014


Chifley Electorate: WentWest Medicare Local, Live Animal Exports, International Financial Transactions

10:51 am

Photo of Ed HusicEd Husic (Chifley, Australian Labor Party, Shadow Parliamentary Secretary to the Shadow Treasurer) Share this | | Hansard source

I have previously noted within this place the critical health challenges that confront the people I am proud to represent within federal parliament. Those challenges are not met by people from our area on their own; they are assisted ably by the dedication and support of medical professionals and practitioners across the electorate.

I am particularly impressed with WentWest, our Medicare Local. They have been around since 2002 and have responsibility for trying to improve health outcomes for nearly a million people living in Sydney's west. They have operated as a Medicare Local and a regional training provider, and they shape health services with a focus on patient centred care led by general practice. They work with doctors, allied health professionals and the local health district. I have seen firsthand what they do. They have actually helped me with some programs to try to boost diabetes awareness because diabetes, heart disease and obesity are particularly problematic in Western Sydney.

Despite saying that it would not touch Medicare Locals, the Abbott government has now told 61 Medicare Locals that they have to retender for 30 spots, and that has caused me great concern. Further, the anti-red-tape government will now make Medicare Locals wade through hundreds of pages of red tape just to get the chance to do what they are already doing.

WentWest have a record of success, and I am deeply concerned that their record and their work will be disrupted. These are professionals that want to do the right thing. They will continue to do the right thing and focus on the task at hand, but I am concerned about the prospect that someone from outside the area will now have to restart and reset the task of addressing health needs within our region. I would be deeply worried if WentWest were prevented from carrying on their vital work to deliver better health care. Quite frankly, the Abbott government's broken promises should not hurt the people of Western Sydney.

I also rise again to voice my continued objection to the treatment of animals subjected to the live export trade. We see continuing shocking pictures of the treatment of those animals. Last year I called for a transition away from live export. I did so because I was on a journey where I had seen on repeated occasions the abuse of animals that were supposed to have benefited from adequate protection, but the passage of time reinforced in my mind that that protection is an illusion.

In this country, all industries are required to operate in a way that ensures there is minimal environmental impact. We would not tolerate the treatment of animals on our soil in the way we have seen overseas. Why we continue to turn a blind eye to this is a matter of profound shame and should not be tolerated. This government has made a virtue of beating its chest about championing a trade that has a demonstrated track record of failing to guarantee animal welfare. I certainly will not turn a blind eye to this and neither will many of the constituents who continue to press for us as a nation to do better.

Finally, I also want to reflect on another issue that will cause communities in my area some concern. I represent a very diverse range of communities that have a very big heart, and many of them work their hardest to provide the best care and support for their families here, but they also recognise that, with the opportunity to personally prosper, they should share a slice of that prosperity with families overseas that might not be as fortunate as them. As a result, many of them will send money back to relatives from where they came to ensure that their lives are a little bit better.

The money remittance system has been brought into the view of law enforcement, understandably, due to the misdeeds and dark intent of a few. However, while I understand that we need to support strong measures to clamp down on those who seek to misuse the remittance system, I am genuinely concerned about innocent families being shut out from this platform and therefore preventing the support for families overseas who need that support. I would urge the government to be very mindful of this and to balance security responsibilities in a way that ensures good decent people can continue to help those in need overseas.

I am prompted to say this because I understand the justice minister is going to announce a new head to the Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre. I hope that this person does engage widely with multicultural communities across our region. I am particularly mindful of the Filipino community in my area along with the Pakistani and subcontinent communities that use remittance to help support families overseas. I hope that the government will be mindful of this.