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Tuesday, 24 November 2009
Page: 12719

Ms HALL (4:27 PM) —Today I wish to speak about some really good news for the people of the Shortland electorate. In 1997 the Howard government closed the Belmont Medicare office, despite the fact that the Belmont Medicare office was one of the most used Medicare offices outside the major centres. The people of Belmont and the surrounding areas have had to suffer until now because of this bloody-minded action of the Howard government. A number of elderly people live in Belmont and the surrounding areas. Those people have been forced to travel quite some distance to access a Medicare office. Many of them do not have a full drivers licence and they are forced to utilise public transport or rely on friends and family to take them to either Charlestown or Lake Haven.

The good news for the people of Belmont and the surrounding areas is that in this year’s budget the Rudd government committed to reopening the Belmont Medicare office. That was very well received in the local area. That office was scheduled to open in January 2010. The premises have been secured. The Medicare office will be at the Belmont Central shopping centre. Believe it or not, whereas the Howard government closed the Belmont Medicare office, the Rudd government is reopening it—and reopening it ahead of schedule. It will not be opening in January 2010; in actual fact the Belmont Medicare office will open its doors on Monday, 14 December. That will be very well received by people in the local area.

As I mentioned, there are a number of pensioners in the Belmont, Swansea, Marks Point, Redhead and surrounding areas and they will really benefit from this early opening. For the thousands of pensioners and families who, currently, have to travel up to an hour each way to get to the Medicare office, this opening before Christmas will be well and truly welcome. On behalf of the 27,000 residents who will benefit from the re-opening of the Medicare office, I thank the minister. I can only say that the Rudd government knows how to do things: it opens Medicare offices early, whilst the Howard government closes Medicare offices.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr S Georganas)—Order! In accordance with standing order 193 the time for members’ constituency statements has concluded.