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Tuesday, 21 August 2012
Page: 9367

Health and Hospitals


Mr PERRETT (Moreton) (14:55): My question is to the Minister for Health. Will the minister update the House on how the government is getting on with the job of ensuring all Australians have access to quality health care?


Ms PLIBERSEK (SydneyMinister for Health) (14:55): I thank the member for Moreton. I got a little bit excited when the member for Dickson got up earlier; I thought I might have got a health question from the member for Dickson. It is 252 days since I have been health minister, and there has not been a question yet from the member for Dickson. In fact, it is 1,098 days since the shadow minister for health has asked a minister for health a question—that is 155 weeks; nearly three years.

Human history is about builders and wreckers. We are the builders; they are the wreckers. Nowhere is that more obvious than in our health system.

Mr Robert interjecting

The DEPUTY SPEAKER ( Ms AE Burke ): The member for Fadden will be led outside in a minute if he is not careful.

Ms PLIBERSEK: The Gillard government investment in health means 2,000 more nurses in our emergency departments, 5½ thousand more GPs in practice or in training, 1,300 extra subacute beds, more than 60 GP superclinics and more than 420 infrastructure grants. In fact, the GP infrastructure grants and the GP superclinics have been welcomed by many opposite—usually in their electorates, not in here. I saw that the member for Gilmore was welcoming, quite rightly, one of these marvellous investments in her own community recently. Unfortunately, this is one of the programs that the Leader of the Opposition says he would cut—a $355 million cut. You simply cannot have it both ways. As health minister, the Leader of the Opposition cut $1 billion from our public hospital system. That meant longer waiting times for emergency and for surgery. He saw the GP shortage blow out and bulk-billing rates at rock bottom. In the 2010 election he promised to cut $5 billion from health spending. You only need to look around at the states and territories to see what that sort of cut would mean: in Queensland, cutting breast screening services, $80 million coming out of hospitals and 4,000 health workers cut; in Victoria $25 million from community health services, including $1 million out of women's health; and, in New South Wales, cuts to emergency after hours—I know that up at the Mullumbimby hospital they are going to lose their after-hours doctor—and 3,600 staff from the health department are reported to be cut.

Mr Dutton: Under your government!

Ms PLIBERSEK: It is under the New South Wales government, which manages the New South Wales health system. In fact, under this government we see historically high rates of bulk-billing, we see PBS reforms that have reduced the cost of 1,000 medicines by as much as $15 a packet and we see a GP hotline providing after-hours care to more than 100,000 people in their own home. I have to say that this government is for building; those opposite are for wrecking, and we see it in health more than anywhere. (Time expired)