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Tuesday, 30 October 2012
Page: 12655

Mr BRIGGS (Mayo) (22:19): I rise to table a petition which has 6,000 signatures. It relates to the McLaren Vale & Districts War Memorial Hospital, which state and federal Labor policies have affected in quite an adverse way. This petition from McLaren Vale, McLaren Flat, Willunga, Clarendon and Kangarilla residents, and certain citizens of Australia, draws to the attention of the House the cost impact of the carbon tax on McLaren Vale & Districts War Memorial Hospital and also the South Australian Labor government's report which recommends cutting the hospital's funding by $1.5 million. The carbon tax is expected to increase the hospital's operating costs, particularly its electricity costs, and any decision by the South Australian Labor government to cut funding to the hospital would force it to close. We know this because the chairman of the hospital, Mr Bryan Hearn, wrote to the member for Kingston. McLaren Vale is currently in the electorate of Kingston, but after a redistribution it will be in the electorate of Mayo at the next election. Mr Hearn copied me in on that letter. He made the point that the annual increase in electricity costs for the hospital will be $5,000, with no relief at all from the government. So there is a big increase in costs and a report issued by the South Australian government suggesting that there should be a cut of some $1.5 million a year to the hospital's funding—which of course would have shut it down.

As the shadow parliamentary secretary at the table knows, the state Labor governments across the country have been implementing a model of centralising hospital services no matter what the impact on local communities. It has taken away significant local services from across our country, across our regions, particularly in electorates like mine and the member for Barker's in South Australia. That electorate has famously seen the Keith hospital become a very contentious local issue in South Australia, and it has been for some time. The South Australian local government cut the funding to the Keith hospital because of its bureaucratic mindset on the way that it believes it should run health.

Since 6,000 people have signed this petition which will be tabled this evening in this place, there has been a backdown of sorts by the South Australian Minister for Health and Ageing, Mr Hill, who has given some commitment for a period of months to ongoing funding while negotiations continue. We are pleased that Minister Hill has come to his senses in that sense for that short period. I note today a story on the adelaidenow website which says 'People power saves McLaren Vale hospital'. I would add 'not quite yet'. Certainly it has given the McLaren Vale hospital some additional time, but what we need to see from state Labor is a real commitment to regional health services being delivered to regional communities like the McLaren Vale.

We need to see from federal Labor their carbon tax abolished. We know that will not happen, so what we really need is a change of government to get rid of that carbon tax, because it has no real environmental benefit and it damages health services like this to the tune of $5,000. The government does not care at all. It has the effect in the end of putting at risk the services delivered into this area, not just to McLaren Vale and Districts War Memorial Hospital but to the surrounding areas of the Fleurieu Peninsula and other areas in a growing part of Adelaide—delivering services, taking pressure off the health network across the country.

The double whammy of these federal Labor and state Labor policies is having a genuine effect on this community. I congratulate the chairperson, Bryan Hearn, and the CEO, David Fechner, for their work so far. But I say to them and to the community: continue the fight. There are 6,000 petition signatures here. It should start to wake up both state and federal Labor to the effect on your community. We will continue to fight on your behalf for continued and better health services in your region.

The SPEAKER: The document will be forwarded to the Standing Committee on Petitions for its consideration. It will be accepted subject to confirmation by the committee that it conforms to the standing orders.