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Bush talks report disturbing.

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26 February 1999

NR 13/99




The National Farmers' Federation says findings in the report following the Human Rights Commission’s "Bush Talks" are disturbing, and reinforce the need for Government action to addres s NFF’s concerns about health, education and other services for country people.


The Chairman of NFF’s Farm Business Management Committee, Geoff Crick, said the report confirmed the impact of the increasing shift of people and services from small country towns to larger regional centres.


"The reduction in health, education and other essential services has been on NFF's agenda in its discussions with the Federal Government for the past few years, and we are gratified that some of our proposals are being considered", Mr Crick said.


"They include the urgent need to arrest the decline in the number of country G.P.s, allied health professionals and hospitals. The report's finding, that many doctors in country areas refuse to bulk bill, is particularly worrying, because many people in country towns have low income levels", he said.


"NFF has suggested to the Minister for Health, Dr Wooldridge, that the problem could be alleviated with the payment of a higher Medicare rebate for non-urban G.P.s".


"NFF also considers that providing an adequate telecommunications service and developing a telecommunications infrastructure which is at least equitable with that available to city people is essential", Mr Crick said.


"Country people are acutely aware of the importance of telecommunications in regional development and how demand is currently far outstripping supply, in the delivery of high-quality affordable telecommunications services", he said.


“A major emerging issue highlighted by NFF during the last election. which must be addressed by Government soon, is the provision of services for the ageing rural population".


“Increasingly, the older generation of country people who helped build their local communities, are being forced to leave them because there are no facilities to care for them in their old age", Mr Crick said.


"This is having a demoralising effect on older country Australians, on their families and their communities", he said.


For further information:


Geoff Crick

Chairman, Farm Business

Management Committee, NFF

03 5343 2302


Dr Wendy Craik

Executive Director, NFF

02 6273 3855

0419 257 469