House debates

Thursday, 13 February 2020

Questions without Notice

Indigenous Health

3:18 pm

Photo of Bob KatterBob Katter (Kennedy, Katter's Australian Party) Share this | | Hansard source

Prime Minister, over a year ago you committed to community market gardens. Surely we are judged on how we treat our poorest. Dick Smith, in one shining example, put his own money into market gardens. Cannot tenders be called immediately for experienced, qualified agriculturalists to provide direction and planning so councils can act, employing Work for the Dole labour, and farm? Professor Ronski has volunteered senior nutritionists to advise on combating malnutrition, enabling us to stop stroking lily pad leftie egos and start saving lives.

Photo of Scott MorrisonScott Morrison (Cook, Liberal Party, Prime Minister) Share this | | Hansard source

I thank the member for his question. I agree with the need to proceed with the market garden proposals. Back in November 2018 I wrote to the member, committing to work with communities in Yarrabah and on Mornington Island to set up those very market gardens. I agree with the member that it is so important for the health and wellbeing of communities, particularly in those areas. The National Indigenous Australians Agency has consulted with Indigenous communities in North Queensland on this proposal, and, while there was broad agreement about the concept, I'm sad to say that the communities said that the market garden, for them, wasn't a high priority. That's what they communicated to us.

We remain committed to working with communities in northern Australia that are interested in building market gardens and we're prepared to back that up to improve fresh food supply and health outcomes. We support that. We need to be able to work with those on the ground who are keen to work with us to put those into place. At present, that is not what is being communicated to us by those communities—to proceed with those proposals. But I will be very happy, as my ministers will be, to work with those local communities to seek to encourage them to come to that view so we can start working together with them to achieve this very important outcome that you and I both share as an important priority for that area.

In addition to that, the government has boosted funding for Indigenous-specific health initiatives to some $4.1 billion over four years to 2022-23, and this is an ongoing increase of around four per cent per year. Of this funding, nearly $4 billion is provided through the Indigenous Australians' Health Program. About 65 per cent of funding with the IAHP goes to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations. That's 63 per cent to the Aboriginal community controlled health sector. And over half of the IAHP funds comprehensively provide primary health care services, with the ACCHS receiving over 80 per cent of this funding.

The member for Kennedy, like the many members who represent North Queensland—I've got to say there are so many members on this side of the House who represent North Queensland—knows what's important on the ground in those communities. What I find disappointing is that 20 members of the Labor Party have to gather together in a restaurant somewhere to try and get this leader of the Labor Party to understand what's going on in regional Australia. He doesn't get it. They know he doesn't get it. I have concluded my answer. I would ask that further questions be placed on the Notice Paper.