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Thursday, 14 February 2013
Page: 1393

Health in the Torres Strait Protected Zone

Debate resumed on the motion:

That this House:

(1) notes the:

(a) uniqueness of the relationship between Australia and Papua New Guinea (PNG) given the physical proximity of the Western Province to the Torres Strait, and the familial and cultural ties; and

(b) Torres Strait Treaty with PNG (ratified in 1985) that provides for Torres Strait Islanders and the coastal people of PNG to carry on their traditional way of life, allowing for traditional people from both countries to move freely (without passports or visas) for traditional activities in the Torres Strait Protected Zone;

(2) acknowledges that an increased level of obligation from within existing resources is required to work towards improving the health and well-being of our closest international neighbours;

(3) recognises that:

(a) there is an ongoing crisis in the Western Province region, particularly in relation to the incidence of tuberculosis and other highly-contagious diseases; and

(b) while the Government has pledged $8 million over 2011-12 to 2014-15 for the South Fly District Tuberculosis Management program, it is evident that sufficient medical support and financial resources are not reaching services on the ground;

(4) calls for a review of administration of AusAID funding for the provision of South Fly District Tuberculosis Management;

(5) calls on the Australian Government to ensure it is working closely with representatives from the PNG Government and the PNG Treaty Village Association towards establishing a long term solution;

(6) reviews priorities within the AusAID budget to enable full funding to be restored to the Saibai and Boigu clinics, to provide necessary support until such time as capacity has been established in the 13 Treaty villages; and

(7) recognises that if current policy is to continue unchanged, the health and safety of Torres Strait Islanders and other Australians will be in jeopardy, as evidenced by the recent arrival at Cairns Base Hospital of the first case of multi drug-resistant tuberculosis.

Question agreed to.