House debates

Wednesday, 24 November 2021

Statements by Members

Shortland Electorate: Health Care

1:55 pm

Photo of Pat ConroyPat Conroy (Shortland, Australian Labor Party, Shadow Minister for International Development and the Pacific) Share this | | Hansard source

The Hunter and Central Coast are facing a health crisis right now because of the actions of the federal government. The reclassification of our area as not having a doctor shortage has meant that some of my GP centres have lost half their doctors, which means many of my constituents can't find a surgery to make an appointment. Those that can get into a surgery are now waiting much longer to see their GP, and once they see their GP they are paying a much higher fee for that privilege because this government has cut the GP bulk-billing incentive to my region. This is a wholehearted attack on universal health care. This is a fearsome attack on Medicare, which is the bedrock of Australian society. To make it worse the Liberals have now cut funding to the brilliant GP Access After Hours service, which has provided great assistance to almost every family in the Hunter. They've cut funding, and there's a review on the minister's desk to cut three-quarters of its remaining funding. If that recommendation is accepted by Minister Hunt the service is dead, gone and buried. That means, instead of spending $4½ million so that families like mine and everyone else in Shortland can see a doctor rather than going to the emergency department, they will clog up the already busy ED wards of our hospitals. This must be stopped. The Liberal government must stop its attack on the health care of people in the Hunter, the Central Coast and Australia more broadly.