House debates

Thursday, 12 November 2020

Statements by Members

COVID-19: Health

1:43 pm

Photo of Anne WebsterAnne Webster (Mallee, National Party) Share this | | Hansard source

I rise to speak about a fundamental human right: health access. Outcomes for the people of Mallee continue to suffer due to ongoing border closures and the clear indifference of the South Australian government. Not only are Mallee people being denied access to South Australia for urgent medical reasons but also visiting medical officers are unable to travel to Victoria to service regional communities like Mildura and Nhill. Several practitioners would normally visit Mildura regularly, including surgeons, dentists, radiographers and ophthalmologists, but they have not visited the region for eight months because the South Australian government will not grant them leave to visit Victoria and return to Adelaide without quarantining.

Mildura has had zero COVID-19 cases for seven months. Right now, 500 patients are waiting for surgery and other procedures. Dr Arthur Karagiannis, the only visiting ophthalmologist to Mildura, tells me over 200 patients are waiting for cataract surgery right now. Most of them have been waiting eight months, with no send in sight—pardon the pun. This is inconceivable in 21st-century health care in Australia.

If the trends hold, Friday will be the 14th day—the accepted life cycle of the virus—in Victoria with no COVID cases. The South Australian government has foreshadowed an announcement on the border for tomorrow. Anything less than a full removal of border restrictions for Victorians will not only be unjustifiable, it will be un-Australian.