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Wednesday, 4 June 2008
Page: 4552

Ms GEORGE (9:56 AM) —I want to spend this morning outlining some of the very positive health initiatives that were contained in the budget. I also want to compliment the Minister for Health and Ageing for the tenacity with which she is undertaking her job, the foresight she brings to the portfolio and, very importantly, the impact that the substantial commitments will have on the electorate that I represent.

I want to begin by saying that the additional $500 million to our public hospital systems, which will be paid before the end of this financial year, will go a long way towards addressing some of the problems that are being experienced particularly as a result of the decline in the number of people working in a professional capacity as doctors and nurses in our public hospital system. That, together with the major commitment that the government has made of $600 million to slash elective surgery waiting lists, will certainly be of great assistance, particularly as we know that, in 2005-06, more than 25,000 patients waited for more than one year for elective surgery. It is an issue that constituents bring to my attention on a regular basis.

The second initiative that will have great bearing on my electorate is the investment that the Rudd Labor government has made in 31 GP superclinics. I am delighted to say that one of these superclinics will eventually come to the Shellharbour local government area, which for years under the former government had been classified as a district of workforce shortage but about which very little had been done. I am delighted that the minister will be coming to my electorate on 2 July to speak to the division of GPs, doctors, medical professionals, nurses and anyone else who is interested in looking at the framework for these superclinics and the planning steps that we need to undertake to make sure that that commitment sees the light of day.

The other area that is very important in the Throsby electorate is the substantial waiting list for dental attention in the public hospital system. The last time I looked at the figures, there were somewhere in the vicinity of 7,000 people in the Illawarra on these waiting lists. The substantial investment to help states reduce waiting lists, together with the Teen Dental Plan, will be of major benefit to the people I represent—as will the Rudd Labor government’s commitment to transition beds to ease the transition for our elderly people from hospital to suitable care, either in the community or in a transition bed, before accessing nursing homes. All in all, I want to compliment the Minister for Health and Ageing, in particular, and the Rudd Labor government for their very positive initiatives.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER (Ms AE Burke)—Order! In accordance with standing order 193 the time for members’ statements has concluded.