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Tuesday, 16 June 2009
Page: 6207


Mr BRUCE SCOTT (6:07 PM) —My question is to the Minister for Health and Ageing. The issue of ophthalmology surgery is a very real one, particularly in my electorate. I know that it extends from the cities to the outback. In my own electorate the towns of Cunnamulla, Quilpie and Charleville—and, in the seat of Flynn, the towns of Longreach, Blackall, Barcaldine and Winton—are towns that I am aware of where ophthalmologists come out from the city and conduct this surgery on a Medicare fee-only basis. Given that most of these people out there are not privately insured, if this is cut—as you propose—from $600 to $300 in November this year, I really feel that these doctors will no longer come out into those rural communities. It is a very real issue and I ask you reconsider that decision. I would see this not only as being able to give people sight again but also as a preventative healthcare measure because if people lose their sight or progressively become more impaired with their vision it does lead to the possibility of falls and a more extensive cost to the overall health budget.

I am sure the member for Solomon would be aware of how in the Northern Territory this is a very big issue. Minister, I really would urge you to reconsider this decision. It is something that is not going to go away and I think this should be seen more in the light of preventative health care as much as it is giving people back their sight. There is almost nothing more valuable than your sight.