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Monday, 2 May 2016
Page: 3990

Dental Health

Ms KING (Ballarat) (14:57): My question is to the Prime Minister. I refer to the Prime Minister's $1 billion cut to dental services. Prime Minister, isn't it better for kids to get easy access to check-ups from their local family dentist instead of spending years on public dental waiting lists?

Mr Perrett interjecting

The SPEAKER: The member for Moreton has already been warned, twice. He will leave under 94(a).

Mr Perrett interjecting

The SPEAKER: The member for Moreton will leave immediately without comment. The Minister for Health will resume her seat. The member for Moreton will leave immediately. It is highly disorderly to interject when you have been asked to leave. I had the option to name the member for Moreton, then, but I chose not to, just to allow the flow of question time.

The member for Moreton then left the chamber.

Ms LEY (FarrerMinister for Health, Minister for Sport and Minister for Aged Care) (14:58): Thank you to the member for Ballarat for her question. Thank you to the Prime Minister for the opportunity to answer because it gives me an opportunity to talk about the coalition's policy for a child and adult dental benefit service. The public national scheme that should have been introduced by Labor—but never was—legislated for the long-term, locked in with the states and territories, doubling the funding to those states and territories, treating 600,000 more patients a year and a truly public scheme.

Let us contrast that with Labor's scheme. Labor did have a scheme called the child dental benefit scheme. It was the member for Sydney's scheme and she was very excited when she announced it and she said it would treat three million children. But the other day the opposition spokesperson stood up and admitted that it had only treated one million children. It had, in fact, only reached 30 per cent of the children it was targeting—so what we have done is fix up another Labor mess in public dental, because we recognise that a truly public dental scheme looks after every child and looks after low-income concessional adults. As I said, this scheme will reach 600,000 more patients a year.

Ms KING: Mr Speaker, I rise on a point of order on relevance. Minister, you need to talk about the billion dollars you are cutting—

The SPEAKER: The member for Ballarat will resume her seat. There is no point of order. The Minister for Health has the call.

Ms King interjecting

The SPEAKER: The member for Ballarat is warned!

Ms LEY: There is $1 billion, but it is Labor's $1 billion. They took it out of Medicare and spent it on other things. When you talk about $1 billion being removed from dental services, it is actually Labor's $1 billion. The scheme that they introduced, $4 million of which is now the subject of questions of rorting and misuse, only targeted one in three children.

There is an important public policy point to make here. If you want to look after—

Ms Owens interjecting

The SPEAKER: The member for Parramatta is warned!

Ms LEY: truly public patients in the dental area, you must target low-income workers, the disadvantaged and children who would never be taken to a dentist. Labor's scheme ignored those children. These are the children in all our schools now who do not get taken to a dentist and who need good preventive oral health. Our scheme will allow state governments to deliver exactly that. Those children will be seen before they need a dentist. The scheme will perhaps send a dental van with oral therapists to a school to intervene and train young people who have never seen a toothbrush let alone a dentist.

I cannot emphasise enough that this is a public scheme that will matter to every public dental patient in Australia. It is a scheme that Labor could not get right. Every state government will have twice as much of their current funding locked in and legislated for the long term.