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Transcript of doorstop interview of the Shadow Minister for Health: Parliament House, Canberra: 8 March 2005: Immunisation, Grange for doctors program, Inequity and Health Report.



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JULIA GILLARD MP Shadow Minister for Health

8 MARCH 2005

TRANSCRIPT DOORSTOP - Parliament House, Canberra ________________________________________________________

Subjects: Immunisation, Grange for doctors program, Inequity and Health Report ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------

JULIA GILLARD: I should start by saying Happy International Women’s Day to everybody, I am sure you have already recognised that.

I have come out today to talk about a few health issues, when we look across the health system now you see the signs of the Howard Government’s arrogance and neglect everywhere.

Finally yesterday after two years, Tony Abbott properly funded Australian vaccines. For three years he has been turning a blind eye to the need to protect Australian children. Finally yesterday he was shamed by Labor into supporting funding the chicken pox vaccine and a new polio vaccine; something the Government’s own experts were saying they should have done in September 2002. And even the Minister for Health yesterday acknowledged 19 Australians died in the last two years of chicken pox.

Now whilst that announcement is finally good news, we want Minister Abbott today to clarify the funding arrangements, he has only funded the vaccine against the deadly pneumococcal disease for two years and the funding announced yesterday for the chicken pox and polio vaccine is less than that Labor pledged at the last election and its less for a five year allocation than Labor pledged for a four year allocation. We want to know, as well as acting too late, whether the Minister has promised too little to properly fund vaccines for Australian children.

Also today we have seen the news that Australia’s medical workforce is in such a crisis that you will be given a bottle of Grange if you can entice a new doctor to Australia. Now, that might be humorous to get a bottle of Grange for getting a new doctor to Australia but it shows exactly how bad the medical workforce crisis is in this country, that we’re reduced to stunts to try and attract doctors to Australia. It is time Tony Abbott did something about this workforce crisis. At the last election Labor promised a huge increase in medical workforce, 1000 new

doctors every year, trained in Australia. Australian doctors for Australian patients, its time Minister Abbott matched that package…

REPORTER: That’s been actually quite successful?

JULIA GILLARD: The stunt might have been successful but I suspect what it does is redistribute a doctor from one medical workforce agency to another medical workforce agency; it doesn’t fix the problem of getting more Australian trained doctors for Australian patients.

Finally can I note, we had a major report yesterday on health inequalities in this country. It shows that for boys up to the age of 14, their death rates are 78% higher in the lowest socio economic group from that in the highest. For men the health gap is 75%, and Minister Abbott’s response was to quibble about the figures, rather than say he was going to do anything. We can’t have that kind of inequality in our country and just turn a blind eye to it.

REPORTER: Are you satisfied with the set up and the terms of reference of the Senate Inquiry into mental health?

JULIA GILLARD: The terms of reference were negotiated between the political parties, I am satisfied they will enable us to have an effective inquiry. The Government has clearly signalled that it’s agenda is shift blame to the States, and that’s what it always does in health, that’s what it does across every area of government policy, when they find that something is wrong instead of taking responsibility after nearly ten long years of the Howard Government, they try and find someone else to blame, we wont be letting them get away with it in this Senate inquiry.

For further information contact:

Kimberley Gardiner 0401 533 002