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Coalition's rural health promise too little, too late



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STEPHEN JONES MP

SHADOW MINISTER FOR REGIONAL COMMUNICATIONS SHADOW ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR HEALTH MEMBER FOR THROSBY CANDIDATE FOR WHITLAM

COALITION’S RURAL HEALTH PROMISE TOO LITTLE, TOO LATE

Labor’s Rural and Regional Health Spokesperson, Stephen Jones, has labelled the Coalition’s rural health

commitment a fraud.

The announcement this morning from Rural Health Minister, Senator Fiona Nash, won’t make up for the

Coalition’s neglect of rural and regional health.

“Fiona Nash has come out and offered a few baubles to appease doctors, nurses, specialists and patients in

the bush,” Mr. Jones said.

“But this won’t make up for the massive health cuts inflicted by this out of touch Government, which are

having a disproportionately large impact outside of our major cities.

“The freezing of the Medicare rebates - a GP Tax by stealth - is the single biggest threat to GP services in

remote, rural and regional Australia. Many GPs know that they won’t be able to pass along the cost because

their patients can’t afford it.

“The Government is attempting to pull a massive swindle by attacking Medicare and then talking about a

Rural Generalist Programme.

“They are playing catch up to Labor’s plan for a Healthcare Reform Commission, which will address the

maldistribution of doctors and other health professionals in Australia. We have already said that we will

address workforce planning and ensure a greater alignment between university training places and

postgraduate vocational training opportunities.

“More than that, the Government is papering over their attacks on our healthcare system.”

Labor’s plan to meet the challenges facing remote, rural and regional health includes:

 Ending the Medicare rebate freeze, which will lead to declines in bulk billing rates in the bush.

 Reversing the Turnbull Government’s plan to increase the cost of medicines by $5 per script.

 Establishing regional trials of suicide prevention services and use the Primary Health Networks to

deliver regionally tailored mental health services. There will be four in rural areas and two in remote

areas.

 Establish the Healthcare Reform Commission, which will have an explicit role in workforce planning

including addressing the maldistribution of health professionals which affects remote, regional and

rural communities.

A Shorten Labor Government will apply a methodical, strategic and evidence-led approach to managing the

health workforce.

FRIDAY, 24 JUNE MAY

Communications Unit: T 03 8625 5111