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Tuesday, 18 March 2008
Page: 1095

Senator BOSWELL (2:48 PM) —My question is to the Minister representing the Minister of Health and Ageing, Senator Ludwig. Has the minister for health spoken to her state Labor counterpart in Queensland, Stephen Robertson, about his failure to take any action for a whole month after he was informed of the violent rape of a nurse in the Torres Strait?

Senator LUDWIG (Minister for Human Services) —I thank Senator Boswell for his question. The matter is one that I will have to take on notice. I do not have a brief in respect of that action, though I do dispute the claims that Senator Boswell has made in respect of that. What I have said, though, is that I will take the matter on notice and will seek to obtain an answer from the health minister, Ms Roxon, and provide an answer to the Senate.

Senator BOSWELL —I am very disappointed that the government has not got a brief on this matter. It is a very important matter and I am sure the nurses union would be very disappointed about the minister not having a brief on it. My supplementary question is: given that the government has appointed a rural area health nurse to the National Health and Hospital Reform Commission, can the minister guarantee that adequate levels of protection will be afforded to nurses in the Torres Strait and other remote areas?

Senator LUDWIG (Minister for Human Services) —On the supplementary question, I will seek to see whether or not the minister for health can provide any additional information. It does appear, though, that the questions go to state health matters. However, I will see if the minister can provide any additional information within her area of responsibility; that is, as the federal health minister.