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Senator Patterson remains in la la land.

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Shadow Minister for Health


Health Minister Senator Patterson has previously blamed the shortcomings of the Howard Government’s Medicare package on the basis that she lives in the ‘la la land’ of the Senate for six months of every year. Now it seems the ‘la la land’ phenomenon is infecting the rest of health policy.

On Friday, the Premiers were so incensed by the fact that Prime Minister Howard and Senator Patterson were not willing to really deal with reform of the health system, but were willing to threaten to rob States of vital health services if they didn’t sign the five-year health agreements, that they

walked out of the Council of Australian Governments meeting.

Yet today Senator Patterson is saying:

“It’s about working cooperatively together to actually drive the $40 billion that we spend on health every year ... to get better health outcomes.”

Yes Senator Patterson - that’s exactly what the States were saying when they were desperately trying to co-operate with you to reform the health system. And at the time your response was to not attend meetings and engage in blackmail. That might be viewed as ‘working co-operatively’ in ‘la la land’

but not in the real world.

‘La la land’ doesn’t end there. Senator Patterson made these remarks at the official launch of an after-hours GP Service at Hawkesbury District Hospital. The service is one of 85 after-hour agreements which are designed to roster local GPs for call out after hours and thereby reduce the pressure on hospital emergency departments.

Senator Patterson is quite happy to open this service today, but as recently as last Friday, she was denying that the lack of GPs and particularly bulk billing GPs was putting pressure on hospital emergency departments.

On Friday, Senator Patterson said:

“It does no credit to Opposition Leader Simon Crean and his health spokeswoman Julia Gillard to misrepresent the facts, as they have done today, about State hospitals and Medicare. They continue to shift the blame from the failure of their State Labor colleagues to run their hospital emergency departments properly by falsely claiming that the fall in bulk billing had increased pressure on State hospital emergency departments. The claim that emergency rooms are filled with non-emergency patients who cannot access GPs is wrong and has been rejected by doctors.”

Maybe blindingly obvious contradictions don’t matter in ‘la la land’. But in the real world, Senator Patterson has to decide. She can’t deny lack of access to GPs puts pressure on hospital emergency departments one day and then announce a GP scheme to take pressure of hospital emergency department three days later.

For further information contact:

Julia Gillard MP on 0417 361 637 Jamie Snashall on 0407 438 746 1 September 2003