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Monday, 7 November 2016
Page: 3020

Ms LAMB (Longman) (11:41): I rise to speak in support of this motion. As the member for Chisholm notes, National Stoke Week was held in September to promote stroke awareness, the role of the National Stroke Foundation and the need for regular health checks. This issue must be considered a matter of public importance, as one in six Australians will have a stroke in their lifetime, with Australians suffering more than 50,000 new or recurrent strokes this year alone. The sad truth is that this disease will likely impact all of us, either directly or indirectly through someone we love. I recognise that past governments, both Labor and coalition, have given bipartisan support. I commend them for this approach, and it is imperative that this bipartisanship continues. But it is equally essential that we continue investing in diagnosis and treatment. Investment in stroke prevention is not just good policy; it is also the right thing to do. Stroke is one of Australia's leading causes of death and disability, and I am proud that the previous Labor governments developed and funded various preventive programs.

Our knowledge and expertise in this area of health have significantly improved and has allowed organisations such as the National Stroke Foundation to raise important awareness. This work is incredibly important because research overwhelmingly shows the time taken to diagnose and treat a stroke is critical to our survival. Across Australia, our health professionals, paramedics, nurses, specialists and rehabilitation professionals play an integral role in this treatment, and I congratulate them for their dedication and commitment.

I have no doubt about the dedication and commitment of health professionals and, given their commitment, we have an obligation to resource health facilities with the necessary equipment to provide first-class care. Unfortunately though, my electorate has only one MRI machine licensed, which is located in the region's largest public health facility, the Caboolture Hospital. I am sorry, but this is just outrageous. MRI is the most effective piece of equipment we have for diagnosis and management of acute ischaemic stroke. Its precision is superior. Albeit a little more expensive, it works. I do not accept that, in a population of around 170,000, it is okay to have one machine accessible to everyone. Timing is critical in diagnosis, and yet, in my electorate, we have one machine accessible to all.

While I have previously recognised the level of bipartisanship on this issue, I feel compelled to point out the recent evidence provided by the Department of Health in estimates. Their evidence was that the department gave no advice on the two MRI licences that the government committed to marginal Victorian seats—to the Frankston Hospital in Dunkley and the Maroondah Hospital in Deakin. There was no advice whatsoever. So yes, while Labor will always take a bipartisan approach where common ground can be found, I find it morally reprehensible that the government appears to be politicising where MRI licences are allocated. We cannot play politics on this issue, and this government must allocate licences based on scientific evidence and data. They must base licence allocations on need, not on political fortune, so that communities just like mine in Longman have sufficient access to essential medical equipment.

While the state has an obligation to provide these resources, I am incredibly excited about and supportive of our Morayfield Health Hub. From mid-2017, the constituents of Longman will have access to additional but essential services for acute and chronic health conditions. This health facility, including one that will improve early diagnosis and treatment of strokes, is one of the most significant developments in our community. It is going to boost the local economy and create jobs. I am incredibly proud that the Morayfield Health Hub will also include a day-to-day stay unit to accommodate 70 patients per day in a range of programs which includes stroke rehabilitation.

Strokes devastate lives. They cause permanent and serious disability and often impact entire communities. We must continue raising awareness of these issues and we must ensure all Australians, not just those who live in marginal seats, can have access to life-saving equipment. In a choice between life and death, we simply cannot play politics.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER ( Ms Claydon ): The debate is adjourned and the resumption of the debate will be made an order of the day for the next sitting.