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Thursday, 17 October 2002
Page: 8038


Mr LINDSAY (12:13 PM) —I am pleased to speak on the Health Care (Appropriation) Amendment Bill 2002 in relation to the Australian health care agreements and some minor changes. The changes are certainly very positive and allow the government to further improve funding to Australia's public hospitals. In Queensland, the Commonwealth government provides about half of the current funding for public hospitals. But there is very great concern, which I would like to alert the House to, in relation to Townsville hospital. Townsville hospital was opened in October of last year. It is a brand new level 6 hospital, and it is an absolute disgrace. The hospital was cost capped, with part of the money coming from the federal government through the Australian health care agreement. That was a very great shame, because part of the hospital has not been built for cyclone conditions.

I think all of you know about the cyclonic influences in the northern part of Australia. Half of the hospital is built as a sort of crumple zone, so that if we do get a very severe cyclone in Townsville then we might find that half of our general hospital does not exist. That is not acceptable. The operating theatres are far too small; accident and emergency is far too small. We are finding that up to 20 patients a day are being kept in accident and emergency because they cannot find anywhere to put them in the wards. This is of very great concern to the people of Townsville and Thuringowa, and it should be to the Australian public, as well as to both the state and the federal government. I very strongly support the Health Care (Appropriation) Amendment Bill, which assists the federal government in providing more funding for the public hospital system.