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Monday, 18 October 2010
Page: 622


Mr KATTER (7:01 PM) —In strongly endorsing the words of the member for Leichhardt, I note that we had a situation in Townsville where there were only three surgeons who were able to do heart surgery. I can speak from personal experience on this because I have been rushed to Townsville for emergency surgery. The previous member for the electorate of Herbert also had to have emergency surgery in Townsville, and the state minister and Speaker of the Assembly, also from Townsville, had to have emergency surgery there too. So it is very common. Due to exactly the same sorts of things that the member for Leichhardt was referring to—petty, vicious, personal vendettas; that is the only word that I can use to describe them—we were left with one single doctor practising. He happened to be the doctor that operated on me, and we checked him out. I am related to a family with a hundred doctors in it, and we checked this bloke out. His name is Mo Diqer, and he is one of the better, arguably one of the best, heart surgeons in the country. His figures in each of the categories are exceptionally high. His survival rates are very, very high indeed, arguably higher than those of anyone except four others in the entire country. But he was under venomous and vicious attack—exactly the same type as Chatoor was under in Cairns—just through the petty prejudices of people who do not have to live there and whose lives are not at risk from us being bereft of specialist care.

The last set of figures I looked at was for the Edmonton area. In the cities of Australia we have one doctor per 300 people. In the country as a whole we have one doctor per 600 people. We have one doctor per 2,000 people in the southern end of Cairns.

Honourable member interjecting—


Mr KATTER —I accept the interjection: I am not Robinson Crusoe. But it is infinitely worse for us in North Queensland. All right, the cavalry is on the way a bit for North Queensland, with the JCU medical school, but we are looking at another 12 years before we have specialists coming out from that school.

I must comment upon the fact that the minister has no representatives here. It is an insult to every single person on both sides of the House.

Honourable members interjecting—


Mr KATTER —Do not be holier than thou, you blokes; I am very bipartisan in my comments here. But when there is a matter of such importance, when the member for Leichhardt speaks with such passion—as well he should—and the member for Maranoa and the member for Kennedy are up here and extremely angry, what is the use, when there is not a single representative of the minister here? That is absolutely disgraceful. In the state parliament we always had the head of the department and the minister. If it was a matter that concerned them, the minister had to be there and so did the head of the department. They had to face the music. But they are hiding out in ivory towers and in cowards’ castles. They are not game to face the music that is being played down here today. It is our people from North Queensland who are going to be in serious trouble and who are going to die, and for the people from Western Queensland I would assume it will be the same.


Mr Bruce Scott interjecting


Mr KATTER —I do not have to tell the honourable member for Maranoa these things. There comes a time when we really have to stand these people up, and the time has come for them to be stood up. The minister must take responsibility for what is taking place here. The Chatoor example is an absolute disgrace and a reflection not only upon the state government but also upon the federal government. It remains a reflection upon them, and if they want people in the streets in anger and with venom and spite then they should just allow the Chatoor thing to continue on—and all of the other issues that we have had over the years. Mr Deputy Speaker, we have put our point to the House, and we would appreciate it if you would put it to the Speaker that ministers should be represented.