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Monday, 2 March 2015
Page: 1737


Dr SOUTHCOTT (Boothby) (10:45): Last Friday there was a rally at the Repatriation General Hospital in my electorate. Six hundred to 700 people gathered to express their concern and outrage at the South Australian government's plan to shut down this iconic hospital. This was the last day of the state government's sham consultation. In early February, Premier Jay Weatherill launched his new health plan with great fanfare, calling it 'the biggest transformation to South Australia's health system we have undertaken'. How long did the state Labor government give the public and the medical community to comment on this important plan? Just 24 days. Contrast that with their next consultation, announced just two days afterward, on whether or not South Australia should change its time zone. Clearly, they believe it is much more important to hear what the public has to say on the time zone, because that consultation is still ongoing with no particular rush to finish. I am sure it is purely coincidence that, over those two days, when there was a massive public backlash over the state government's plan to close the repat, the time zone consultation is being run by Minister Hamilton-Smith, the only Minister for Veterans' Affairs ever to close a veterans hospital in his own electorate.

The South Australian Labor government are now only listening to the advice they want to hear. Both the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation and the Australian Medical Association have said that their health plan lacks meaningful detail and they have not had a chance for proper consultation. Doctors and nurses in the public health system are being gagged from criticising their plan and banned from speaking out against changes they think will have a serious negative impact on South Australia's health system. I am aware of a number of staff at the repat who believe that shutting down this hospital is a terrible idea and will compromise patient care but do not want to be named because they have been put in fear for their jobs if they do.

One of the things the health minister said is that other states no longer had a repat hospital. That is simply not true. New South Wales still has a repatriation hospital at Concord and the Heidelberg Repatriation Hospital is part of the Austin Hospital in Victoria. I could go on. Last Friday, South Australians rallied at the repat to tell the state government what they think of their plan. Just because state Labor's consultation is officially over, that does not mean we are going to stop fighting to save the repat. If the doctors and nurses are not allowed to speak up for themselves, we, the Liberal Party of South Australia and residents of the southern suburbs, will speak up for them.