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Wednesday, 12 September 2012
Page: 10379

Health Care

Queensland Government

Mrs D'ATH (Petrie) (14:42): My question is to the Minister for Health. Minister, today families in my electorate are reeling from cuts announced in the Queensland budget to jobs and front-line health services. What impact will these cuts have on health services, and how is the government supporting the healthcare needs of families?

Ms PLIBERSEK (SydneyMinister for Health) (14:43): I thank the member for Petrie for her question. I know that as a proud Queenslander she is very worried about the effects that these cuts will have on people living in her electorate and living in Queensland. For weeks now we have heard little bits of information from here and there: cuts to breast-screening services; cuts to nurses in Townsville, the Darling Downs, Charters Towers and West Moreton; cuts to flu vaccine for health workers; cuts to pathology services in Hervey Bay; and even cuts to counsellors who help grieving relatives at the morgue—all of these little reports from everywhere. But yesterday we saw in the budget papers a whole lot more information. We heard that in fact the job cuts were not 2,700; there are in fact 4,140 jobs to go. You cannot cut that many jobs without impacting front-line services.

We have seen more shockers. We have seen the shutting of the Queensland Tuberculosis Control Centre and 12 full-time jobs go from the DonateLife agency, effectively disbanding this agency. Everything we know about increasing organ donation rates says that you need dedicated workers to do it, and we have seen in this budget that those dedicated workers have gone, including the donor family support officer—gone to be a bureaucrat instead of supporting families.

You know, having all these bits of information, it is like one of those 3-D Magic Eye pictures—you are seeing all these bits of disparate information and when you look at it closely a picture emerges, and it is a very scary picture indeed: it is the picture of Tony Abbott's Australia if he is ever Prime Minister. We know this is the curtain-raiser. I tell you what: we had a press release also from Peter Dutton, the member for Dickson, the shadow minister for health and ageing; it is called—

Ms Julie Bishop: Madam Deputy Speaker, on a point of order: it would be helpful if the minister were to refer to the member by their seat, not by their name, and act in accordance with the standing orders.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER ( Ms AE Burke ): The Deputy Leader of the Opposition's point is valid. Individuals must be referred to by their seats.

Ms PLIBERSEK: So, the member for Dickson, the shadow minister for health and ageing—'Resuscitating Queensland Health'. This is a great one. He is congratulating the Queensland government for these cuts. And—wait for it—this is the best bit: he says, 'You can take Labor's path and spend taxpayers' money on shiny towers housing public servants, or you can take the Liberal way and spend it on helping doctors.'

Opposition members: Hear, hear!

Ms PLIBERSEK: What do we see here? Campbell Newman's towers!

Opposition members interjecting

Ms PLIBERSEK: Members opposite should read the Townsville Bulletin:

As Townsville's already-stretched public hospital staff face an uncertain future, Premier Campbell Newman has announced a flash new Brisbane office for himself - and it's not a good look.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER: Before I call the next question, I inform the House that we have present in the gallery this afternoon—

Honourable members interjecting

The DEPUTY SPEAKER: This is ridiculous! I am trying to welcome visitors and you are not even giving me the courtesy of allowing me to do that. It is just beyond the pale.