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Monday, 8 February 2010
Page: 728

Mr ZAPPIA (9:53 PM) —On 20 March there will be a state election in South Australia, and once again Modbury Hospital is being used as a political football by the Liberal Party in South Australia. Yesterday, in an article in the Sunday Mail, the member for Sturt entered the state election fray with some political posturing in respect to the Modbury Hospital. It comes as no surprise that truth is often a casualty when you listen to the member for Sturt. That was very much the case as he tried to make the Modbury Hospital a state election issue on behalf of his state colleagues.

The Modbury Public Hospital was built by the Dunstan Labor government and opened in 1973. It lies within the seat of Makin. It is a good hospital that serves Adelaide’s north-eastern community well. As with any hospital, things can go wrong from time to time. But the serious concerns with the hospital occurred under the watch of Liberal governments, both state and federal. Firstly, it was a Liberal government in 1995 that privatised Modbury Hospital by handing over the management of it to the private organisation Healthscope. It was under that privatisation that the hospital’s service and reputation rapidly deteriorated, so much so that by the 2002 state election the local community was demanding that the state government take back administration of the hospital. So too was Healthscope, which by that time was only too willing to hand it back to the state government. In 2002 the state Labor government was returned to office and the hospital reverted to public management on 1 July 2007, when the agreement with Healthscope expired.

Because of the Liberals’ privatisation, Modbury Hospital was returned to public hands in a very stressed and rundown state. Labor set about restoring the hospital’s reputation. But then along came the federal Liberals, and what did they do? They cut hospital funding by $1 billion. Who was parliamentary secretary for health between 2004 and 2007? It was none other than the member for Sturt. So we have a state Liberal government that washes its hands of the hospital and privatises it and, then, when the Labor government takes it back the federal Liberals cut national funding to hospitals by $1 billion.

Since coming to office, the state Labor government has in fact worked methodically on reforming the whole of health system in South Australia. Using additional funding provided by the Rudd government, health services in the north-east are being restored. Since being elected in 2002, the Rann government has spent an additional $39 million on Modbury Hospital. That is an increase of 73 per cent. Since 2007, the Rann government has employed an extra 39 doctors and 42 nurses at Modbury Hospital. The Rann Labor government has also committed $12 million to infrastructure upgrades at the hospital. An additional $2.5 million has been spent on renovating the outpatient clinic areas, radiology and lift foyers.

South Australia’s Health Care Plan 2007-16 identified Modbury Hospital as both a high-volume elective surgery site and a hospital that would tailor its services to meet the needs of the ageing population in the north-eastern suburbs by expanding in the areas of rehabilitation, aged care and palliative care. Modbury Hospital, while still undergoing some adjustments, is once again rebuilding its credibility and reputation. Furthermore, the hospital will be supported and complemented by a $25 million GP superclinic being built almost adjacent to it. The $25 million clinic is being jointly funded by the federal and state governments, and I am working closely with the local state members, Frances Bedford, Jennifer Rankine, Tom Kenyon and Jack Snelling, to ensure that the people of the north-eastern suburbs of Adelaide have access to the best possible health services. I say ‘best possible’ because we all know that we could always provide better services if there were unlimited money available or more doctors and nurses in the system. Again, it was the Howard government that limited entry places into university for doctors, and now we are playing catch up.

The fact is that people in the north-eastern suburbs of Adelaide know that it was the state Labor government that built the public Modbury Hospital and a state Liberal government that privatised it. It was the Rann Labor government that restored the hospital into public hands. They know that the Howard government cut hospital funding to the states by $1 billion, and it was the Rudd government that restored that funding. They also know it was a federal Labor government that increased funding for elective surgery and training of more doctors and nurses. And it is the state and federal Labor governments, working together, that will be making a $25 million commitment to health services in the north-east with the development of GP superclinic at Modbury. These are real commitments, not political spin or political rhetoric.

When it comes to the Modbury Hospital, the Liberal Party has no credibility and a lot to answer for. Voters will judge them accordingly on this issue at the coming state election.