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Monday, 21 June 2004
Page: 31023


Ms JULIE BISHOP (Minister for Ageing) (6:59 PM) —The member for Lowe raised the issue of additional Medicare funded MRI units. Without a doubt, expanding access to MRI units is a key government priority. It is reflected in the radiology quality and outlays memorandum of understanding with the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Radiologists and the Australian Diagnostic Imaging Association. There has been a great deal of collaborative work done to expand Medicare access to MRIs. The department has consulted with the profession and with other key stakeholders on the initiatives, and discussions around this issue are of course complex.

The member for Lowe refers to an announcement of 23 more Medicare eligible MRI machines, and, of course, that is the case. I reject absolutely his charge of a cynical allocation of MRI machines. We are talking about the health, safety and welfare of all Australians. The federal seat of Adelaide covers the city of Adelaide and surrounding areas. I have no doubt that the good people of Adelaide and of South Australia are also worthy recipients of an MRI machine. There are always competing demands for limited resources. In relation to the specific allegations that the member for Lowe has made against the Minister for Health and Ageing, suggesting that he is giving a nod and a wink, that is not the minister's style, it is not the way the minister would operate. I will take the matters on board and raise them directly with the Minister for Health and Ageing. Without doubt, the overall package announced in the 2004-05 budget is a substantial investment in the health and ageing needs of the Australian community, including communities that need and deserve a Medicare accessible MRI machine.