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Monday, 15 June 2009
Page: 6023

Mr HARTSUYKER (6:46 PM) —As we approach June 30 we are nearing the deadline for one of the major election promises made by Kevin Rudd during the 2007 election campaign. ‘When it comes to health, the buck stops with me,’ Kevin Rudd told the Australian people prior to the last election. If the states did not improve their performance, he would take over the public health system. Well, since the Rudd government was elected, the public health system in New South Wales has continued to deteriorate, particularly along the North Coast. The North Coast Area Health Service is currently cutting 400 jobs, and hospitals such as Maclean in my electorate are being subjected to cutbacks. This is the hospital that the local community has been supporting for many decades. Over the past 18 months the local area health service has tried to sell off land at Maclean hospital. They are also attempting to erode the status of the hospital by abolishing the dual position of executive officer-director of nursing and making staff accountable to Grafton hospital, around 40 minutes drive away. The area health service is also planning to lay off permanent night security staff at the hospital, which means staff will no longer have the reassurance that they have the support of security staff in times of emergencies.

Kevin Rudd cannot walk away from our services, such as the one which is managing Maclean. He cannot walk away from Maclean hospital. Kevin Rudd has to be accountable to his promise that the buck stops with him on health. Hospitals such as Maclean must be supported.