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Dentists betrayed by Labor and the Greens

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Thursday 23 August 2012 Page 1 of 2

Dentists betrayed by Labor and the Greens

Liberal Senator for Tasmania David Bushby says Labor and Greens Senators should hang their heads in shame after they today turned their backs on dentists across Australia.

Senator Bushby was seeking to end the Government’s grubby political pursuit of dental practitioners who acted in good faith under the Medicare Chronic Disease Dental Scheme (CDDS), through a Private Members Bill, but the Greens voted with Labor against fairness for dentists.

The Government has demanded dozens of dentists who provided treatment under the CDDS collectively repay more than $20 million to Medicare, for failing to meet incidental paperwork requirements.

It was only after sustained pressure from Senator Bushby and his Coalition colleagues, that Human Services Minister Kim Carr acknowledged a need for retrospective changes to compliance arrangements to allow for a more flexible and educative approach by the Department.

“Today we had a bill before the Senate which was designed to address that inequity and covered precisely what Minister Carr now acknowledges needs to be done, yet Labor and the Greens combined against ending the injustices inflicted on dentists who have been unfairly and unreasonably targeted,” Senator Bushby said.

“And while they’re flat-out saying no to any reasonable solutions, we still see no clear plan from the Government on how they will address the problem of 400,000 people on Australia’s public dental waiting lists.”

Shadow Minister for Health and Ageing, Peter Dutton MP, shares Senator Bushby’s disgust. Mr Dutton introduced the Private Members Bill into the House of Representatives and it was defeated by the Labor -Greens alliance.

“Labor and the Greens have combined in the Senate to kick dentists in the teeth again. In the House of Reps they betrayed honest dentists and they have done it again in the Senate,” Mr Dutton said.

The Hon Peter Dutton MP Federal Member for Dickson Shadow Minister for Health and Ageing

Senator David Bushby Liberal Senator for Tasmania Chair of the Senate Economics References Committee

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Senator Bushby said the only certainty is, as Tasmanian dentist Dr Wilma Johnson says, “the Government has trashed the goodwill of the profession.”

The CDDS audit debacle has seriously deterred dentists working in the private sector from participating in government-funded dental programs, and the number of dentists working in the public health system is not sufficient to meet growing demand.

Senator Bushby said there’s no hiding the reason why the Gillard Government is intent on undermining this particular scheme.

“Their aversion to the CDDS is driven by the fact that it was set up by Tony Abbott in 2007 and has proven to be a very successful scheme, providing treatment to around one million Australians.”

“Labor has a penchant for axing proven policies put in place by the Coalition as well as promising much but delivering little.”

Mr Dutton has no faith in the ability of the Greens to keep Labor to their promises.

“Labor keeps failing to deliver on their dental health promises. The Greens promise to hold Labor to account and never do,” Mr Dutton said.


Media contacts:

DUTTON: Kenneth King - 0437 436 780 or (07) 3205 9977

BUSHBY: Jane Miller 0418 103 523