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Thursday, 26 June 2014
Page: 7539

Mr THISTLETHWAITE (Kingsford Smith) (13:36): I wish to thank and congratulate members of our community of Kingsford Smith who joined doctors, nurses, patients and health workers at the Prince of Wales Hospital last Saturday to protest against the Abbott government's introduction of a Medicare co-payment. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition, Tanya Plibersek, addressed hundreds who attended the rally. They were clearly concerned about the dismantling of universal health care in our community, the unfair nature of the co-payment and the additional pressure that it will put on the cost of living, particularly for pensioners and those on fixed incomes in our community, and of course on the emergency department at the Prince of Wales Hospital.

Kerry Hayes, a local nurse, spoke of the fact that nurses at the Prince of Wales Hospital are currently stretched to the limit. Despite population increases in our area, 30 beds have been closed over the last two years and nurses are leaving and not being replaced. The co-payment will put additional pressure on the emergency department by deterring people from visiting their doctor when they should. The crowd also heard from Gerard Hayes from HSU. Members of our community are clear in their message to the Abbott government. They are saying they expect better health services, that is why they pay taxes. They do not want the dismantling of Medicare. The clear message to the Abbott government from the community of Kingsford Smith is: hands off Medicare.