Thursday, 4 August 2022
Questions without Notice
My question is to the Minister for Health and Aged Care. What does the minister say to the residents of South West Rocks, a small coastal community in my electorate, who will now be forced to compete with suburban Sydney to attract doctors, all because of Labor's decision to blow up the classification system for rural doctors?
I'm pleased to take another question about the ways in which this government is seeking to make it easier to see a doctor. Because the last government made cut after cut and change after change that resulted in it being harder to see a doctor—
and more expensive to see a doctor than it ever has been in the Medicare era. I'll go to the changes we made to the DPA, because in his question the member tried to compare the area he represents to Sydney. What we did with our changes to the DPA, the Distribution Priority Area, was to reverse a cut made by the former government in 2019 that removed the ability in 140 GP regions of this country to employ overseas trained doctors. They were not regions in the middle of Sydney. They were regions like the ones represented by the member for Hunter, the member for Shortland and the member for Paterson on the Central Coast, and like other regional areas in Queensland, Victoria and New South Wales. The former government pretended it was the same process to recruit a doctor in the Hunter Valley as it was in Mosman. It simply isn't. I visited, time after time, GP surgeries in regional Australia that had consulting rooms that were closed and consulting rooms without a doctor.
The Leader of the National Party might scoff. They tried to run a campaign in the Hunter Valley. They obviously didn't bother visiting any GP practices in the Hunter Valley, because doctor after doctor and patient after patient—
in that community said that because of your changes in 2019 it had never been harder to see a doctor than it was then. So we make no apology at all for reversing those cuts and—
for making it easier to see a doctor in the Hunter Valley, a community you pretended to represent and failed dismally. What those opposite might want to tell their communities is that—
The Leader of the Nationals will leave the chamber under 94(a).
The member for Maranoa then left the chamber.
Government members interjecting—
That is not something to cheer about, government members. The member for Grey, on a point of order?
Thank you, Mr Speaker. I apologise to you, because I remember very clearly you supporting Labor's policies to make it easier to see a doctor right through the election campaign. But I can tell you, Mr Speaker, I was lobbied to reverse the changes the former government made to, for example, bulk-billing incentives in DPA 2 areas like the Hunter Valley. I resisted that lobbying, because I thought it was important there be continued incentives in more rural and more regional areas, including higher bulk-billing rural incentives and higher incentives under the Workforce Incentive Program. (Time expired)