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Thursday, 27 June 2013
Page: 7281


Ms HALL (Shortland) (14:53): My question is the Minister for Health and Ageing. Will the minister outline for the House how the government is building a strong and vibrant health system for the future? What milestones will be reached in the coming years to ensure better health outcomes for all Australians?

Ms PLIBERSEK (SydneyMinister for Health) (14:54): Thank you for that question. We are building a health system for the future and I am proud of what we have achieved in the last few years, firstly with Nicola Roxon, who did such a fine job with plain packaging and other aspects of the portfolio. More recently I have been proud of my own achievements. We are building a health system for the future.

We are committed to delivering the best possible health care to patients at an affordable price. We are the party of Medicare. In fact, we love Medicare so much we had to introduce it twice because they killed it the first time. We are the party of the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme that delivers affordable medicines for Australians. We have added $5 billion worth of new medicines since 2007 to the PBS. We are the party that believes universal health care is a basic right for all Australians.

What does that mean for the future? So far, since we came to government in 2007, there have been 11,000 more doctors in Australia. There are not the shortages that we had when the Leader of the Opposition was the health minister when he capped doctor training numbers. There are more hospital beds. We have promised 1,300 extra hospital beds with about 800 of those delivered so far. There is less waiting. We have injected billions of dollars into rebuilding our hospitals, new emergency departments and new beds for elective surgeries and we are seeing the results of that now. Under health reform we have guaranteed an extra $16.4 billion of funding between now and the end of the decade. We have put $3.4 billion into rebuilding our public hospitals to prepare them to move to activity based funding. This huge reform means hospitals will be funded more when they treat more patients. We are encouraging them to look after more people, do more elective surgery, deliver more babies, replace more hips.

On 1 January, Grow Up Smiling will start with $2.7 billion to ensure that for Australian children it will be as easy to go to the dentist as it now is to see a GP—3.4 million Australian children living in family tax benefit part A families will find it as easy to go to the dentist as it now is to go to the GP. They will grow up with better teeth. On 1 July we are also providing the next lot of funding for public dental services, another $1.3 billion to build on the hundreds of millions that we have spent on reducing public dental waiting lists already.

We are going to continue to invest in improving bulk-billing rates that hit historic lows under the Leader of the Opposition when he was the health minister. We have built a stronger health system and will continue to build a stronger health system because we believe that all Australians deserve a decent health system.