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Thursday, 6 March 2014
Page: 1895

Mr FITZGIBBON (Hunter) (13:56): There can be no more important a responsibility for government than the provision of quality, affordable health care for its community. Over the course of the Howard years, the GP situation in some parts of my electorate was reaching crisis point. You could not get your name on the books of the local GP and bulk-billing services were very elusive.

Over the last six years, we have turned that situation around substantially and resident-to-GP ratios have improved markedly. As a result, people are getting far greater access to bulk-billing services. This I fear, though, is about to unravel, given what we hear coming from the other side of the chamber. As the Prime Minister walks into the chamber, being a former health minister I note he will be very keen to hear my thoughts on this. The Prime Minister visited my electorate when he was health minister and I appreciated that very much. The Prime Minister would understand the situation in parts of my electorate. We must allow people to have ready access to affordable health care. There is no more important a role for the government and I call upon the Prime Minister to consider the needs of my constituents, as he goes into the budget, in what I understand could be detrimental changes to the Medicare system as we know it.