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Wednesday, 17 August 2011
Page: 8337

Mr McCORMACK (Riverina) (13:52): Another day, another Labor bungle! Regional health has become a victim of federal Labor penny-pinching as shown by the government asking doctors to pay tax on grants for the building of GP superclinics. The owner of Narrandera's new $1 million superclinic has been hit with a $380,000 tax bill on the grant. Liz Romeo, whose GP husband, Joseph, runs the clinic, has been waiting for a private ruling from the Australian Taxation Office since February. Late last month, Narrandera community's 6,000-plus people heard it may lose the town's only dentist, Dr Iain Douglas, because no clinic had been made available to him in the first stage of the GP superclinic. This farcical situation with Dr Douglas and now the tax bill is so typical of this government which cannot do anything right. It is a government which gives with one hand yet takes away with the other.

The Narrandera clinic which opened recently is one of 64 to be built across the nation using $528 million in grants from the federal health department. By treating the grants as an income, the government can regain millions and millions of dollars, money originally intended to improve and expand on primary health services, particularly in regional areas. The initial idea of the superclinic was so that GPs could provide better facilities to their communities. However, slugging them with this extra tax will just disadvantage the doctors and in turn their patients. Once again Labor has made a promise which creates more concern for the regions without so much as a thought for the people, jobs and long-term sustainability of those regions.