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Tuesday, 4 November 2003
Page: 21920

Ms GEORGE (2:53 PM) —My question is to the Minister for Health and Ageing. Can the minister confirm that the government abolished the Commonwealth dental scheme and that in New South Wales, despite a $100 million injection of funds by the New South Wales state government, that state has lost more than $160 million in funding for dental health services? How does the minister explain his government's priority for subsidising Botox beauty treatments to my constituent Mrs Marge Howard, a war widow caring for her 43-year-old son who has type 1 diabetes and who has lost 35 kilograms as a result of the loss of his teeth in the four years he has been on the dental waiting list?

Mr ABBOTT (Minister for Health and Ageing) —We did not abolish that program. It was a lapsing program and it simply lapsed through the effluxion of time in the ordinary way. Let me make this point: every year, thanks to the government's private health insurance rebate—

The SPEAKER —Order! I warn the member for Fowler!

Mr ABBOTT —some $350 million more goes to dental services. My message to the New South Wales government is that the Labor opposition would rip the guts out of the private health insurance rebate and put even more pressure on the state dental services.