Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
O'Byrne calls for action to protect Gold Card for veterans.



Download PDFDownload PDF

Michelle O’Byrne MP FEDERAL MEMBER FOR BASS SHADOW PARLIAMENTARY SECRETARY FOR COMMUNICATIONS

PRESS RELEASE

O’BYRNE CALLS FOR ACTION TO PROTECT GOLD CARD FOR VETERANS

The Federal Government was today urged by the Federal Member for Bass, Michelle O’Byrne to immediately negotiate with the medical profession to ensure the ongoing viability of the Gold Card Scheme for Australian ex-servicemen and women.

“I undertook at a Veterans Forum at the Launceston RSL on 30th January to bring the issue of gold card recognition before the Parliament because it is causing much distress both to our veterans and their families, and to the doctors who treat them,” Ms O’Byrne said.

She said that she had introduced a private members motion at today’s sitting of the House of Representatives, which called upon the Government to negotiate an agreement with doctors that will enable them to provide adequate levels of care to gold card recipients.

“Veterans all over the country are beginning to receive notification from doctors that they may, either now or in the near future, have to make a contribution to the cost of consultations.

“I do not believe it is appropriate that we should be reducing services and support we provide to those who have served our country in times of war. Our veterans believed that they would be supported and we must not break that trust.

Ms O’Byrne said that it was a disgrace that the Government had simply blackmailed doctors into accepting an extension of the three year old memorandum of understanding when it expired in December, 2002, leaving many practitioners unwilling to provide gold card consultations to their veteran patients.

She said that the Government’s advice to affected veterans that they should simply move to another doctor, was both heartless and impractical.

“Our ex-servicemen and women deserve to be able to continue to see the doctor of their choice, someone who knows and understands their medical history and circumstances.

“Apart from that they would struggle to find another doctor in any case. Many doctors have closed their books and cannot take on any more patients whether they be veterans, pensioners or full fee payers,” Ms O’Byrne said.

She said she would continue to press the Government for action on the issue until such time as universal card recognition was restored.

Canberra, 3rd March 2003

Further information: Michelle O’Byrne 0417 379 562

Brian Roe 0438 604 571