Wednesday, 26 February 2020
Page Electorate: Australia Day Awards
I would like to acknowledge Robbie Graham. Robbie is a member of the Goolmangar RFS and was recently recognised with an Australian Fire Service Medal for his dedication to our community for the past 50 years. He has had great support from his family. I know that his wife, Shirley; his children Peter and Sharon; their respective partners, Suzanne and David; and Robbie's grandchildren Brady, Ella, Emma and Ryan are exceptionally proud of his efforts. Congratulations Robbie on this well-deserved award.
I would like to acknowledge and congratulate all the members of my community who in the latest Australia Day Awards in the Lismore City Council area won their respective divisions. Stephen Garbutt, Captain of Wyrallah Rural Fire Brigade since 2007, was awarded an OAM—congratulations, Stephen, very well deserved.
Annette Moehead from Wollongbar was awarded a Public Service Medal for her wonderful contribution to our health system. Norm Robinson was awarded the Community Individual Australia Day Award—congratulations, Norm. The Services in the Community Australia Day Award was awarded to the Muslim Students' Society, Southern Cross.
The Sports Team Australia Day Award was awarded to the St Carthage's Primary School and Lismore Rugby 10s team who claimed victory as the state champions at the Catholic schools rugby 10's championships—well done. Valerie Axtens was awarded the Australia Day award for arts and cultures. Congratulations, Valerie. Macy Butler was named Young Citizen of the Year and the Citizen of the Year award was awarded to Dave Henderson. Dave, thank you for everything you've done recently, especially with the bushfires. My congratulations to all the winners.
I would like to acknowledge and congratulate all the members of my community who received Australia Day Awards in the Richmond Valley Council area. Mick Stain from Casino was awarded the Citizen of the Year for his outstanding voluntary service of more than 16 years in the RFS fire brigades. The Young Citizen of the Year award went to Ben Wheeler for his strong community service. Ben is a volunteer firefighter and has been on the fireground 34 times. Karen Rea and Donna Lamont were both named Volunteers of the Year for their outstanding commitment during the major bushfires we had. Lucy Ellis was named Young Volunteer of the Year for contributing a significant amount of time as a very active volunteer at the Evans Head Surf Lifesaving Club. Congratulations, Lucy. The Young Sportsperson of the Year award went to Kali Ainsworth, who has gone from strength to strength in her chosen sport of rugby union, representing her club, zone and school and touring overseas. Well done to Kali.
I'd like to acknowledge the Sportsperson of the Year in the Ballina council area, which was awarded to Hayley Oakes of Pearces Creek. Hayley is an outstanding young woman who is a multiple Australian mountain bike champion across several disciplines. Well done, Hayley.
Facilitating access to affordable health care should be amongst the highest priorities of any government. A government which fails to provide access to affordable health care risks having blood on its hands. Too many people in parts of my electorate are struggling to gain that access now. In a short period of time, more than a thousand people have signed my online petition calling upon the Morrison-McCormack government to revisit changes it has made to general practice and Medicare services. Large areas in the Hunter electorate will suffer under the new system for determining where bulk-billing incentives apply and where overseas trained doctors can work. Towns in both the Cessnock and Lake Macquarie LGAs have been adversely affected: Cessnock, Kurri Kurri, Morisset, Wangi Wangi, Cooranbong, Dora Creek, and Bonnels Bay, just to name a few.
Community Healthcare and Waratah Medical Services are two great practices which extensively offer bulk-billing services. They are now of course under pressure. Their economic model has changed because of the government's decision. It is true that some people will now decide not to visit a GP when they genuinely need to visit a GP, because they simply can't afford to do so because the bulk-billing services they've become accustomed to will no longer be available.
Some of these practices have ageing GPs, as well—Waratah Medical Services GP clinic in Morisset is a typical example. They had been unable to find new doctors anyway, and that has been compounded by the changes in this modified Monash model, which rates towns in my electorate on the same scale as Mosman on Sydney's north shore. This is crazy. Waratah medical services and those providing similar services in the Cessnock LGA can't afford to provide those quality health services at cheap rates without the support of this government. So I again call upon the government to revisit this issue to ensure that the boundaries for determining these things reflect the reality on the ground and therefore ensure that the people in my electorate, particularly in working-class and ageing communities, have access to medical services they need and deserve.