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Election 2007: Opposition Leader campaigns at Queanbeyan Hospital; visits a News Limited editors' conference.

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This transcript has been prepared by a source external to the Parliamentary Library.


It may not have been checked against the broadcast or in an y other way. Freedom from error, omissions or misunderstandings cannot be guaranteed.


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Thur sday 8 November 2007

Election 2007: Opposition Leader campaigns at Queanbeyan Hospital; visits a News Limited editors' conference


MARK COLVIN: Interest rates aside, the Labor leader has today been courting crucial media support. 


Hours after a similar trip by the Treasurer, Peter Costello, Kevin Rudd made a special visit this morning to the News Limited editors conference in Canberra. 


It wasn't a widely advertised event and the Opposition leader was later keen to show the travelling media pack around the nearby Queanbeyan Hospital in the marginal Liberal-held seat of Eden-Monaro. 


But it didn't all go to plan. Staff at the busy hospital took the opportunity to air their grievances about the state Labor-run health system. 


Karen Barlow reports. 


STAFF MEMBER: Hi Kevin, how are you, cheers, good to see ya. 


KEVIN RUDD: How's things? 


KARN BARLOW: With Kevin Rudd in the grip of an inconvenient cold, perhaps a hospital wasn't the best place for him. Fortunately, he was pressing the flesh with workers rather than patients. 


BARRY: Hey mate. 




BARRY: Barry. 


KEVIN RUDD: Hi, Barry. What are you doing in here, mate? 


BARRY: Wards nursing. 


KEVIN RUDD: I used to be a wardsman. 


BARRY: Oh, very good. 


KEVIN RUDD: At Canterbury Hospital in Sydney. 


KAREN BARLOW: But the smiling faces soon gave way. 


What are you hoping from Kevin Rudd today? 


HOSPITAL WORKER: Not a lot. True. They're all full of bullshit anyway. Sorry, but they are. You know, this started off as the sixth, sixth bed.. it's just going down hill, simple as that. 


HOSPITAL WORKER 2: That's alright. We might be losing our mammography service that was planned as well. 


KAREN BARLOW: A visiting medical officer, Dr Philip Gray took it straight to Kevin Rudd in the noisy meet and greet room, telling him his New South Wales Labor counterparts were letting him down. 


PHILIP GRAY: Lots of services have been shut down. The… we don't have any fracture clinic, any orthopaedics, we don't have ultrasound. We should have a CT scanner, but we haven't got that. 


Um, we no longer have a visiting radiologist, we no longer have a visiting orthopaedic surgeon. Fifteen years ago, 16 years ago we had visiting ophthalmologist, before that, even ENT people. So, it's a... reduction, reduction, reduction, is the issue. 


KAREN BARLOW: Dr Gray cut through to Kevin Rudd who renewed his pledge for a Federal takeover of state and territory health systems if they are not up to stratch. 


KEVIN RUDD: I have never for a moment said that these folk are as pure as the driven snow when it comes to running hospitals. They are not. They make mistakes. I understand that. I get it. And what I want to do, is put my hand up and take responsibility for the future. 


You can't however throw all the burden on states and territories while Mr Abbott pulls a billion dollars off the table. And at the same time, you can't simply give states and territories a blank cheque without saying "here's the performance agreement in terms of elective surgery and the other matters." I was speaking to one of the doctors earlier here today about this very subject and I completely agree that we have got to get both sides working effectively on that. 


KAREN BARLOW: The Opposition Leader was less than forthcoming about his visit this morning to the News Limited editors conference. Getting backing from Rupert Murdoch's empire could be important for the Kevin '07 campaign. But Mr Rudd wouldn't say if he was seeking or securing it. 


KEVIN RUDD: Guess what? It is just important to go out there and talk to editors across the country and news directors across the country, because my job in politics is to get our message out. 


REPORTER: Were you well received? 


REPORTER 2: Did you get what you wanted? 


KEVIN RUDD: That is a question you should put to folk who are editors who were at this morning's meeting, as you should put to your editors as well because of the various meetings I have had with them as well. Nothing mysterious here. Oh, by the way, I think Mr Costello was there earlier this morning before me. 


MARK COLVIN: Kevin Rudd ending Karen Barlow's report.