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Thursday, 1 November 2012
Page: 8794

Health


Senator MARSHALL (Victoria) (14:06): My question is to the Minister representing the Minister for Health, Senator Ludwig. Can the minister outline to the Senate the investments the Gillard government is making in the health and hospital system?


Senator LUDWIG (QueenslandMinister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry and Minister Assisting on Queensland Floods Recovery) (14:06): I thank Senator Marshall for his continuing interest in Victorian health. I know that he, like all on this side, has a long-standing commitment to improving healthcare and hospitals for the long-term. The senator is quite right to identify the importance of investment in health care and hospitals. This Labor government is delivering better health services for Australians. We are investing over $74 billion in health and aged care spending through from 2012-13, and over $15 billion in hospitals from the same period. We are investing in the Royal Hobart Hospital and the Grafton hospital and many more like them. We are investing in the Victorian Comprehensive Cancer Centre and over 21 regional cancer centres All up this Labor government has increased hospital funding by well over 50 per cent since we were elected. We are now undertaking crucial reforms to build a better health and hospital system for the future. This is a true national reform deal, with more beds, more funding, more transparency, less bureaucracy and less waiting periods. Health reform will provide 13,000 more subacute beds and be better targeting for elective surgery and emergency departments. All this investment comes with a commitment for value for money, which is so important for our healthcare system. We are saving time and money and reducing medical errors with the new e-health reform agenda.

All this might sound hard to believe for those who are opposite. Their legacy is, of course, ripping $1 billion out of hospitals, capping GP training places and leaving a shortage of 6,000 nurses. The Liberal-National Party would have scrapped health reform, cut after-hours GP support and stopped hospital investment. Mr Abbott was, I would have thought, Australia's poorest health minister for the actions he undertook. He opposed— (Time expired)


Senator MARSHALL (Victoria) (14:08): Mr President, I ask a supplementary question. I thank the minister for that answer. Can the minister outline to the Senate what the Gillard government is doing to support patients in the health and hospital system?


Senator LUDWIG (QueenslandMinister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry and Minister Assisting on Queensland Floods Recovery) (14:08): I thank Senator Marshall for his supplementary question. As a Labor government we know that patient welfare is so important. That is why we are investing in hospital infrastructure itself, health services and the health workforce. We have delivered more than 90,000 elective surgery operations, 2.2 million GP superclinics services, and training for more than 1,000 more nurses a year. Bulk-billing rates have continued to reach record highs in the June quarter, with 82 per cent of GP services bulk-billing. We have committed to more than 60 GP superclinics and 4,600 practice nurses, and we have doubled the budget for Indigenous health. The Gillard government is making it easier to see a doctor and contact a doctor to ensure that people can receive the health care they require. GPs and specialists are closer to home because of the boost to training— (Time expired)


Senator MARSHALL (Victoria) (14:09): Mr President, I ask a further supplementary question. Is the minister aware of any action that is detrimental to patients and the health and hospital system?


Senator LUDWIG (QueenslandMinister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry and Minister Assisting on Queensland Floods Recovery) (14:09): I thank Senator Marshall for his continued interest in Victorian health care. The Gillard government continues to invest in our hospital system, but there are those who are acting against patient interests. It is time for the Liberal-National Baillieu government to act. In the last budget we committed $100 million in funds for 11 regional priority round projects with the Victorian government: a regional cancer centre in Albury, a dental clinic in Ballarat, a district health centre in Kerang—all vital upgrades and projects for patients. Barwon Health, East Grampians Health Service, Mildura Base Hospital—all are on the list. The Commonwealth also allocated $111 million to Victoria for patient care, including 82 subacute hospital beds. Victoria agreed to all of this funding in February 2012. Now it is November and they still have not signed the agreement, denying and refusing to take more than $200 million— (Time expired)