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Monday, 23 June 2003
Page: 17270

Mr DUTTON (9:15 PM) —Tonight I want to inform the House about an initiative announced today in a very important area of public policy—that is, health. I have spoken in this chamber before about not only the issues and the problems that face the people of Dickson but also how we have been able to find solutions and have been able to rectify some of the problems that face young families and an ageing population in particular.

Today, the Minister for Health and Ageing, Senator Patterson, announced that under the More Doctors for Outer Metropolitan Areas measure the areas of Kallangur, Murrumba Downs, Petrie, Lawnton, Bray Park, Strathpine, Brendale, Everton Hills, Arana Hills, Ferny Hills, Keperra and Ferny Grove were to be included as part of the incentives program. Also recently included was the area of Bald Hills, which is just outside my electorate in the seat of Petrie.

The announcement today is the result of 12 months of hard work by a lot of people to bring to the attention of this House the health problems we face in outer metropolitan areas. As we are all aware, we have a desperate shortage of doctors in this country. Trying to attract doctors from inner metropolitan areas to the outer metropolitan areas where there is a high demand on their services has been very difficult.

This government very proudly, as part of the last budget, announced $917 million worth of funding under the A Fairer Medicare policy to provide a boost to doctors providing bulk-billing services, particularly to people with health care cards who otherwise could not afford general practice consultations. This area of policy is very important to the people of Dickson. Under this policy, we are able to offer doctors between $20,000 and $30,000 to take up practice in the seat of Dickson. Tonight I invite doctors who are considering moving from areas such as Brisbane City to discover what a great environment Dickson has and the opportunities it provides young families and in particular young businesspeople, including those in the medical fraternity.

As I have already said, we do have health care problems right across Australia. Tonight I compliment the health minister, Senator Patterson, and also the Prime Minister for their involvement in bringing this package together and in trying to address some of the problems that have developed over many years. One such area has been addressed as part of this announcement today. The demand on medical services and on doctors is ever increasing and will continue as our population grows dramatically in the outer metropolitan areas.

I also pay tribute today to the work of the Brisbane North Division of General Practice, which I have met with on a number of occasions and which have provided valuable input to the department of health in helping them recognise that there is a demand in outer metropolitan areas in the suburbs that I mentioned a while ago. I thank Bill Bowden from Brendale, who is a great advocate for the Brendale community and who has, on a great number of occasions, very enthusiastically brought to my attention the fact that Brendale should be included as part of this measure. I also thank the Pine Rivers Press for their work in highlighting this as a major issue for our local community. I am sure that they will recognise the fact that we have gone some way to providing a solution to that problem.

Tonight I add to the calls to the Premier of Queensland to take up the Commonwealth's generous offer of $851 million in extra funding for hospitals in Queensland. I take the opportunity to say to the Premier of Queensland that Queensland Health need to start to get serious about providing health services to Queenslanders. They need to do that by coming to the party and agreeing to accept the amount of money that has quite generously been offered by the federal government in the area of health. (Time expired)