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Thursday, 11 May 2000
Page: 16356

Mr SIDEBOTTOM —I was pleased to see in the budget an attempt to tackle aspects of the problem of rural health, albeit belatedly and, I suspect, with the smell of an election in the air. I would like to make some complementary comments about that issue and to point out that my electorate of Braddon has farming as one of its most important industries.

It was with interest that I noticed that a recent study from the Australian Centre for Agri-cultural Health and Safety showed that agriculture and farming is the most dangerous industry around, even more so than mining. Somewhere between 200 and 600 injuries per 1,000 farms require attention at rural hospitals each year. And we know that many farmers do not go and see doctors unless, of course, they are in excruciating pain.

One of the important things about the comments in the budget is that it is all well and good to attract health professionals to rural areas, and it is very much needed. But the important thing that we need is the social infrastructure to keep them there. That is something that I think is important and that is missing in the budget. I believe we need an integrated, comprehensive, regional social and economic policy in order for these people to be retained, because I can assure you that it is one thing to get them there, it is another thing to keep them. It is very important that we keep that in mind.

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Nehl)—Order! In accordance with standing order 275A, the time for members' statements has concluded.