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Tuesday, 11 September 2012
Page: 10185


Mr PERRETT (Moreton) (14:38): My question is to the Minister for Health. Will the minister inform the House how the government is investing in health for all Australians? How is the government working with states and territories to deliver front-line health services for our communities?

Ms PLIBERSEK (SydneyMinister for Health) (14:39): I thank the member for Moreton for that really important question. We know that the cuts that we are seeing in the Queensland health budget are just the curtain raiser on the cuts that this Leader of the Opposition would preside over here in Canberra. They have made deep cuts in Queensland, deep cuts to staffing numbers—2,700. We know that you cannot cut 2,700 people out of a health system and not affect front-line services.

Mr Randall: There's a lot of fat.

Ms PLIBERSEK: We have a list here of the reports of the cuts—nurses, pathology, cancer screening, allied health, physios, occupational therapy, prevention services, flu vaccine, whooping cough vaccine. The list is a long one. This is just a precursor to the 20,000 public servants they say they are going to cut. You cannot cut 20,000 public servants from areas like health and have no effect on service delivery.

Who are the people who are employed in health? They are the aged-care nurses who check that the nursing homes are safe for our older Australians. They are the people who work at the TGA, who make sure that medicines and medical devices are safe for Australians to use. They are the people who make sure we have enough flu vaccine around the country and that it can get to where the outbreaks are if there is an outbreak. We have seen this list of cuts in Queensland day after day and we have seen the effect the cuts will have on front-line services.

The member for Moreton asked this question. The reports in his electorate are for cuts to counsellors at the local morgue—the people who are there counselling the relatives who turn up to identify bodies, in what must be one of the most traumatic experiences for any human being. There are reports that their jobs are under threat. I say today: let's put a human face on Campbell Newman's cuts. These are the people behind the cuts to front-line services. The woman shown in this article is Elizabeth Handley, a single mother, who says she is going to lose her home because she has lost her job—a front-line job that she has had for 27 years.

The member for Canning was interjecting, saying, 'There's plenty of fat to cut in health.' While I do not want to see a single extra public servant employed, I will tell you that these people who are checking our medicines and making sure we have vaccines and making sure that drug-resistant tuberculosis does not come into Queensland are the people who will lose their jobs under this Leader of the Opposition.