House debates

Thursday, 28 October 2021

Constituency Statements

Banking and Financial Services, Health Care

11:25 am

Photo of Lisa ChestersLisa Chesters (Bendigo, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

In response to the Member for Riverina's comments about major banks closing their branches, Bendigo Bank, which is based in my electorate, is expanding in regional areas and opening more and more branches, so I encourage those customers to think about banking with the truly rural bank that we have, and that's the Bendigo and Adelaide Bank. They are not leaving our regions behind at all. They are expanding. Their community bank branch model is second to none. It's where money that's invested in your local branch stays local. It's of real benefit to our regions that, through Bendigo Bank, we have such a strong partner. We have bank closures as well in my part of the world, and what I say to locals is: 'Think about banking with our local bank, the bank that actually reinvests in our community.' Go Bendigo, Member for Riverina!

What I also want to raise today is a push on the federal government around hospital funding. This is the second year of the pandemic. It is hard for our regions. We are going through the process of opening up. I, like many, was shocked to discover that the health ministers in our state governments are so concerned about the support from the federal government that they wrote to the Minister for Health and Aged Care and pleaded with him to increase funding to hospitals, and to do so urgently. I cannot believe that the government are saying, 'No. We've done our job.' They aren't investing more in our hospitals and aren't listening to the calls from our state governments.

In my part of the world, Bendigo, we are opening up. We have high vaccination rates, yet we are seeing people being infected and, for the first time in quite a few months, we now have cases at the Bendigo hospital. They're ready. They're trained. They're ready to go. But it is expensive. If we want to make sure that we have a strong health sector with workers who aren't exhausted and who will see us through the pandemic, we need a federal government that will partner with our state governments to make sure our hospitals have the resources and the funding that they need.

I am alarmed that the federal government continues to say, 'We've done our job.' It is like they're pretending that the pandemic is over. It is not. The reality is that opening up is quite scary. People that you know and that I know will get sick. Children under the age of 12 still don't have access to a vaccine, and if they have underlying health issues there could be a risk there. Something that concerns me, as a mum of two under two, is: what could happen? Nobody wants their community or their family to be infected by COVID. That's why vaccines are a good defence against this virus. However, if people do get sick, we want to have a hospital bed for them. If they get really sick, we want to have ventilators for them. That is why we need the federal government to not pretend the job is done and to actually say, 'Yes, we increased your funding last year. We're still in a pandemic this year. We're going to increase funding again.'