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- Start of Business
QUESTIONS WITHOUT NOTICE
(Abbott, Tony, MP, Gillard, Julia, MP)
(Leigh, Andrew, MP, Gillard, Julia, MP)
(Moylan, Judi, MP, Bowen, Chris, MP)
(Owens, Julie, MP, Gillard, Julia, MP)
(Bishop, Julie, MP, Rudd, Kevin, MP)
(Perrett, Graham, MP, Swan, Wayne, MP)
(Kelly, Craig, MP, Gillard, Julia, MP)
(Murphy, John, MP, Combet, Greg, MP)
National Education Standards
(Pyne, Chris, MP, Garrett, Peter, MP)
Australian Securities Exchange
(Symon, Mike, MP, Swan, Wayne, MP)
(Turnbull, Malcolm, MP, Albanese, Anthony, MP)
(Hall, Jill, MP, Roxon, Nicola, MP)
(Hartsuyker, Luke, MP, Gillard, Julia, MP)
(Mitchell, Rob, MP, Crean, Simon, MP)
(Windsor, Antony, MP, Burke, Tony, MP)
Australia-United States Relationship
(Brodtmann, Gai, MP, Rudd, Kevin, MP)
(Tudge, Alan, MP, Albanese, Anthony, MP)
(Melham, Daryl, MP, Smith, Stephen, MP)
(Pyne, Chris, MP, Burke, Tony, MP)
Research and Innovation
(Georganas, Steve, MP, Garrett, Peter, MP)
- MATTERS OF PUBLIC IMPORTANCE
- MINISTERIAL STATEMENTS
SUPERANNUATION LEGISLATION AMENDMENT BILL 2010
INTERNATIONAL TAX AGREEMENTS AMENDMENT BILL (NO. 2) 2010
PROTECTION OF THE SEA LEGISLATION AMENDMENT BILL 2010
- NATIONAL MEASUREMENT AMENDMENT BILL 2010
- SERVICE AND EXECUTION OF PROCESS AMENDMENT (INTERSTATE FINE ENFORCEMENT) BILL 2010
- WATER EFFICIENCY LABELLING AND STANDARDS AMENDMENT BILL 2010
- CORPORATIONS AMENDMENT (NO. 1) BILL 2010
- DEFENCE LEGISLATION AMENDMENT (SECURITY OF DEFENCE PREMISES) BILL 2010
- FISHERIES LEGISLATION AMENDMENT BILL (NO. 2) 2010
- GOVERNOR-GENERAL’S SPEECH
- NATIONAL HEALTH AND HOSPITALS NETWORK BILL 2010
SOCIAL SECURITY LEGISLATION AMENDMENT (CONNECTING PEOPLE WITH JOBS) BILL 2010
THERAPEUTIC GOODS AMENDMENT (2010 MEASURES NO. 1) BILL 2010
VETERANS’ AFFAIRS LEGISLATION AMENDMENT (WEEKLY PAYMENTS) BILL 2010
- Mitchell Electorate: Road Funding
Holt Electorate: Eumemmerring and Chalcot Lodge Primary Schools
RoboCup Junior Australia
- Mr Carlo Salteri
- Welfare Reforms
- Wright Electorate: Coal Seam Gas
- Cunningham Electorate: Broadband
- Murray-Darling Basin
- Kingston Electorate: Roads
- Brisbane Electorate: Achievement Awards
- Robertson Electorate: Arts Community
- Franchise Sector
- McEwen Electorate: Lancefield
- Start of Business
- Brisbane Electorate: Home Insulation Program
- Fraser Electorate: West Belconnen Health Cooperative
- Murray Electorate: Mome Insulation Program
- Canberra Electorate: St Mary of the Cross
- Casey Electorate: Active After-school Communities Program
- Hindmarsh Electorate: Employment Conditions
- Cowan Electorate: St Anthony’s Catholic Primary School
- Lingiari Electorate: Uluru-Kata Juta
- Higgins Electorate: Education
- Deakin Electorate: Local Sporting Champions Grants
- AUTONOMOUS SANCTIONS BILL 2010
- Danby, Michael, MP
- Briggs, Jamie, MP
- Gibbons, Steve, MP
- Morrison, Scott, MP
- Perrett, Graham, MP
- Macfarlane, Ian, MP
- Leigh, Andrew, MP
- Neumann, Shayne, MP
- Fletcher, Paul, MP
- Burke, Anna, MP
- Bishop, Bronwyn, MP
- Owens, Julie, MP
- Washer, Dr Mal, MP
- Hayes, Chris, MP
- Prentice, Jane, MP
- Thomson, Kelvin, MP
- Baldwin, Robert, MP
- Saffin, Janelle, MP
- Schultz, Alby, MP
Tuesday, 26 October 2010
Ms GRIERSON (7:37 PM) —As a nation it is fair to say that we stand at a crossroads. The decisions that we make here in this parliament will be critical if we are to build the sophisticated world-class health system necessary to meet the present and future needs of our ageing population.
The National Health and Hospitals Network Bill 2010, which I rise to support, forms part of the most extensive and far-reaching reform of the health sector since the introduction of Medicare in 1984. It will deliver a health network for all Australians, funded nationally and run locally. We will become the dominant funder of hospital services, with full policy and funding responsibility for GP, primary health and aged care. We will also pay for 60 per cent of hospital activity and capital costs, as well as 60 per cent of teaching, training and research costs—costs which are ever-escalating.
We will use this increased funding responsibility to leverage greater coordination, control and accountability at a local level. There are savings and synergies to be found. That is our goal: to find those savings and synergies and make the health dollar go as far as it can. Combined with a new national performance framework, we will transform the health system, making it more transparent, to provide all Australians with improved access to high-quality health care—the one thing I think all Australians collectively strive for.
This bill establishes the framework for the Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care as part of the National Health and Hospitals Network. As a permanent, independent body under the Commonwealth Authorities and Companies Act 1997, the commission will set national clinical standards, guidelines and indicators and strengthen clinical governance. It will foster safe and high-quality care, particularly in the areas of primary care and mental health. By reducing the occurrence of preventable errors, and healthcare costs stemming from unnecessary or ineffective treatments, the commission can go a long way to restoring the community’s waning trust in the health system.
Australian Labor governments have a strong and proud history of investment in health and public hospitals. Almost three decades ago, under the Hawke Labor government, this nation stood up for the right of all Australians to protection against the crippling financial consequences of hospital and medical treatment. Now we are standing up again for the right of all Australians to better hospitals and better health care. Whether they live in regional or metropolitan Australia, this will be a health system for all Australians.
From 1 July this year we, as a government, began to deliver $7.3 billion for the Australian health system over five years to ease the pressure on our hospitals and GPs. This is an increase in funding of over 50 per cent. It is designed to build the capacity of the Australian health system. We are working to better integrate hospitals with community health providers and general practitioners. That is one thing that my region excels in—integration and collaboration has proven a great driver for innovation and best practice in the Hunter New England Area Health Service. Nationally we have delivered more beds, more training and more GP services. But according to the member for Dickson, this Labor government ‘is all talk and no action’. Make no mistake, those opposite believe in a very different Australia. It would not be an Australia for all Australians, with a health and hospital network for the 21st century.
When he was the Minister for Health and Ageing under the previous government, the now Leader of the Opposition cut $1 billion from public hospitals. Then in the lead-up to the recent election, he pledged to again cut funding for GP services, to cut the GP Super Clinics Program, to cut the e-health system and to cut the 24-hour, after-hours GP helpline. Under an Abbott-led government, we would have seen fewer doctors, fewer nurses, and fewer beds.
What it really comes down to is the question: who will put the health and wellbeing of Australians first? Who will support a national hospital network so that all Australians can enjoy affordable and universally accessible health care? Who will cut emergency department waiting times and who will fund more hospital beds? These are the questions that the Australian people are asking of us, asking this new parliament.
The question that those opposite face is whether they will support this reform package and help deliver a higher quality health and hospital system, or whether they will vote against this legislation, just as they have voted against our broader reform agenda. When they vote against more hospital beds and a national after-hours GP service, they do so not because they do not care but because, it seems, they just do not understand.
Almost a year ago, on 7 October 2009, with the then Minister for Indigenous Health, Rural and Regional Health and Regional Services Delivery, the Hon. Warren Snowdon, we conducted a consultation with the people of my electorate of Newcastle and the surrounding electorates of Charlton, Hunter, Shortland and Paterson. We asked the people of Newcastle and the Hunter for their views, their experiences and their ideas, and we listened. It is some of those ideas that we are now attempting to implement through this legislation.
Since then a significant number of residents in my electorate have written to me about the state of the public health system and of the hospital system particularly. In my experience as a member of parliament, I never receive as many responses to surveys as I do when the survey is about health. Health care is something that is critical to every member of my electorate. Jean from New Lambton asked us to fix the lengthy delays in waiting lists. At the John Hunter Hospital, the waiting list for a gastroscopy and colonoscopy for diagnosis of, say, coeliac’s disease with diabetes is one year. ‘Imagine what could happen during a whole year’, Jean said, ‘waiting for the investigation and diagnosis of a potentially dangerous medical condition.’ In December last year, cancer patients at the Calvary Mater Newcastle Hospital were having to wait for six to eight weeks to see an oncologist and a further 12 weeks before they could begin chemotherapy.
Our hospitals are getting busier each year and demand for quality health care is increasing as our population ages. The 2010 Intergenerational report has warned that an ageing population will strain the healthcare system and increase both healthcare needs and expenditure. The proportion of our population aged over 65 is forecast to increase from 14 per cent this year to 23 per cent by 2050 and we need to ensure that our health and hospital system is able to meet this increasing demand.
These reforms to our health and hospital system are long overdue. The Australian people have expressed their concerns, in my electorate and in electorates around Australia. We are committed to rectifying the $1 billion shortfall in public hospital funding under the previous government, just as we are committed to training doctors and nurses for the future by reinstating the training positions that were cut by the previous Liberal led government. As a government, and as a party, we are committed to providing more beds, more training and more GP services. We will invest in better health and better hospitals for all Australians.
Vital to these reforms is the $64 billion agreement with state and territory governments reached in November 2008. This is a 50 per cent increase on previous Australian government funding for public hospitals. The agreement included a $1.1 billion health workforce package, $750 million to take pressure off emergency departments and $500 million for subacute care facilities. The government also invested $872 million nationally in preventative health programs for schools, workplaces and local communities with a high incidence of chronic disease. Sadly, there are too many such communities. Chronic disease is rising, and last year in my electorate of Newcastle we provided almost $200,000 to fund extra support for local patients with chronic diseases. If we are to have a truly national health and hospitals network, it is vital that we have strong safety and quality standards so that all Australians can be confident in the quality of the care that they are receiving, whether they are at the John Hunter Hospital in Newcastle or the Broken Hill hospital in far western NSW.
This has been the hallmark of the current government. We are a government for all Australians, and we will invest in the public health system in six key areas: by expanding the capacity of our hospitals through the National Health and Hospitals Network; by investing in our doctors and nurses with more training places and allied health scholarships; by building primary care infrastructure with more GP superclinics and upgrades to existing general practices; by taking health records online through investments in e-health; by developing local hospital networks; and by funding health prevention in schools and in workplaces around the country.
Over the coming five years we will deliver 1,300 new subacute hospital beds. We will cap emergency department waiting times at four hours. Not so long ago I sat with my father in an emergency ward, having got back from Canberra at 6 pm to find he had been at the hospital since 10 o’clock in the morning. That is a long time to be waiting on a bed in an emergency ward. We will ensure that elective surgery is delivered in clinically recommended times for 95 per cent of Australians. We have already seen this government’s commitment to reducing elective surgery waiting periods at the John Hunter Hospital, which services the residents of my electorate. Last year, the federal Labor government provided almost $400,000 for new equipment in my electorate to improve elective surgery performance, as part of the Elective Surgery Waiting List Reduction Plan. Nationally, we have already delivered more than 62,000 additional elective procedures.
We also provided $2.2 million to upgrade the PET scanner and services at the Calvary Mater hospital in Newcastle. I am pleased to say that the state government has this year installed an MRI machine at the Mater hospital, and I am working closely with the Minister for Health and Ageing, Nicola Roxon, knowing that they will require some support for the operation of that MRI. The Calvary Mater hospital is the largest oncology service deliverer in New South Wales.
We also funded 50 new Commonwealth supported nursing places at the University of Newcastle to the value of $564,000, as part of our commitment to reducing emergency room waiting periods and improving the quality of health care. We have provided $466.7 million over two years to establish the key components of a personally-controlled electronic health records system in Newcastle, to give back to patients ownership of their health records.
I am very pleased that Newcastle, through Hunter GP Access, is one of the regions to be part of that initial project. They have a great history of providing support for GP services and in Newcastle, where we have seen Primary Health Care close down an important medical practice at less than one day’s notice, we have seen patients struggle to find or get access to their records. It has been very distressing for people who have been at a practice for a long time, so I know the value to patients of knowing that they can control their records and retain access to them. I am pleased that our region will be a part of that, and I have met with Mark Foster, the head of GP Access, and he has made a commitment that best practice will be followed. We have also allocated almost $250,000 to the Hunter Dementia and Memory Resource Centre and funded after-hours GP access to the sum of $6.7 million. I praise GP Access—we are using their model for after-hours service, which they have had for many years. It provides for a call centre and triage services. We have also provided more than $2.6 million for Indigenous mental health programs in my electorate alone.
We are already delivering a health and hospitals network for the 21st century, and we will continue to deliver on our commitment to improving access to health services for all Australians. Supplemented by strong safety and quality standards, this bill will encourage confidence among the Australian people in the high-quality care that they should receive and deserve to receive. I commend this bill to the House, and I thank the Prime Minister and Minister Roxon for their ongoing interest in the health concerns of the people of Newcastle over many years.