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Tuesday, 19 June 2012
Page: 7133

Mr CHEESEMAN (Corangamite) (18:41): Today I rise to speak about the issue of the Health and Hospitals Fund and the important role it is playing in improving health services across Australia, particularly in regional and rural Australia, which my seat is within. Rural and regional communities have a range of difficulties—which I am sure the minister is aware of—when it comes to accessing high quality healthcare. Corangamite, the federal seat that I represent has two issues—population growth and an ageing population—which are providing a large challenge for the medical infrastructure and the health and hospital infrastructure that we have in place. I was very pleased to have supported the Geelong cancer centre. The minister has been working exceptionally hard to deliver a cancer centre to help support the treatment of cancer, not only, importantly, in the Geelong area but across the whole of western Victoria. If you look at any of the statistics on cancer treatment within the regions, there is absolutely no doubt that regional Australia has in the past suffered. The cancer centres are a hallmark of this government, and the $26 million being delivered to the Geelong region for a new innovative cancer centre is, I think, very, very important.

I also noted—and had a great deal of pleasure in accompanying the Minister for Health to—the announcement that we made in Point Lonsdale about helping to support the Bellarine Community Health service. Labor has had a very long and proud history of supporting community health services. It was Labor, way back in 1972, that established the first of the community health centres—the Bellarine Community Health centre—so I was very pleased to join with the minister in announcing, with her, the $3 million to upgrade that fantastic service. I know that the Bellarine community is very proud of the role of the Bellarine Community Health service and the role that it plays in that part of my seat.

I was also very pleased to note that this budget delivers $2.8 million towards a hydrotherapy pool to help service the Colac community. Again, I would like to thank the minister for that announcement. Colac is located about an hour's drive west of Geelong. If you are someone who suffers from a workplace injury or from a traffic accident injury, being able to access hydrotherapy services is, I think, critical for you. But the reality is that, up until this announcement, people in Colac had to drive an hour east to Geelong to receive those services. From talking to physiotherapists and other allied health practitioners as well as doctors, I understand that often any benefit that might have come from hydrotherapy was lost on a patient as a consequence of their having to spend a couple of hours in a car.

I would like to acknowledge and thank you, Minister, for that very important funding to the Colac community. When I was down there making the announcement, it was pointed out to me that the Colac community had fought for a very significant number of years to receive that funding. It was through the innovative approach of the Health and Hospitals Fund that enabled us to do that, and so I was very pleased.

My question is: Tony Abbott as the health minister ripped a lot of money out of the budget. I would like you to discuss that.