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Odds shorten on dental backflip.

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Nicola Roxon MP Shadow Minister for Health MEDIA RELEASE

Odds shorten on dental backflip

There are more reports today that the Howard Government may be preparing to respond to Labor and community pressure on dental care.

If the Government completes this spectacular backflip, they must apologise to the thousands of Australian families who have spent months and years on public dental waiting lists as a result of Howard Government cuts.

11 years ago the Howard Government cut the Commonwealth Dental Program. For 11 years, they have played the Blame Game, denying that the Federal Government has any role to play in dental care.

On at least six separate occasions this year Minister Abbott has said dental care is a state responsibility.

On 17 March Minister Abbott told the Australian Dental Congress in Sydney that people concerned about Australia’s dental crisis “should direct their concerns to the state governments. They need to take responsibility and I think that

public dental care is appropriately in their domain."

But with an election looming, reports suggest the Howard Government may be about to execute one of their biggest backflips yet.

Federal Labor has long argued that State and Territory Governments cannot tackle the soaring demand for public dental services alone.

There are 650,000 people on public dental service waiting lists, and up to 50,000 people admitted to hospital each year for preventable dental conditions. Reports this weekend stated that the number of children being

hospitalised for dental treatment has increased by 29 per cent over the last decade.

Labor is committed to re-establishing a Commonwealth Dental Program and making dental care more accessible for working families. Rather than play the Blame Game, Labor is committed to working with the States and Territories to fix Australia’s dental crisis.

Labor policies are setting the agenda. Is the Prime Minister preparing to follow Labor’s lead once again?

Monday 7 May 2007. For more information call Sean Kelly 0417 108 362