Matters of Public Importance | Health Care

Wednesday, 1 March 2017

I have to say that I am getting a little bit tired of getting up here to talk on yet
another misguided matter of public importance from those opposite claiming we have failed and that we are doing
the wrong thing when Labor and especially state and federal Labor in my home state of South Australia are the
only failures in the health space that I am aware of.

I am just going to run through a few of the successes achieved by the coalition government. There are so many that I do not think I am going to have time to go through them all. I know that people in my electorate and other Australians already know full well that they are benefiting from our record investment in health in this nation. Australians know this because their medicines are cheaper than ever. GP bulk-billing rates are higher than ever at 85 per cent. The number of services subsidised by Medicare
has increased under us yet again. This is because we are rock-solid when it comes to the health of Australians and we are rock-solid on Medicare, the funding for which is increasing consistently by about $1 billion every year.

On top of this, we are tackling harder issues such as obesity and ice addiction. We have rolled out our $160 million Sporting Schools program to keep kids active. I am particularly interested in the Girls Make Your Move campaign which looks to encourage more young women to get involved in sport. We have invested $398 million to underpin the National Ice Action Strategy and have geared up our Primary Health Networks to help with this terrible scourge as well.

We have also started to fix the health issues of tomorrow with a substantial investment in health and medical research to the tune of $125 million. I just want to quickly mention the work that Flinders University, which is in my electorate of Boothby, and the Medical Device Research Institute are doing in a smart ageing area. We know that ageing and looking after our ageing population is one of the big challenges that we face. They are doing some remarkable work in this space. I look forward to seeing the results of that research during my term.

Those opposite always want to talk down our contribution to health. They like scaring the elderly. And they did that throughout my campaign in Boothby. I do not know on what basis they can do this because their track record is undeniably poor. They cut $1 billion from dental care and means tested it. They cut $500 million from Medicare for pathology. They cut $664 million from Medicare for GPs. And they cut $450 million from Medicare safety net protections. For me, as a South Australia, Labor's track record in this place is of no surprise, given that we are seeing the result of their appallingly bad policies in South Australia. They have decimated our health system, they are lurching from crisis to crisis and, of course, they cannot even keep the power on. I would like to know what my South Australian counterparts opposite are actually doing about this. I do not see them doing much at all.

Let us look at the biggest failure in South Australia health at the moment—the failure to open the brand-new $2 billion new Royal Adelaide Hospital. We have one of the world's most expensive buildings sitting there without its doors open and without a single patient being treated. It is an absolute failure. I hope that the state Labor government can pull this together and provide health care to the South Australian people for this huge investment. Labor are closing a number of hospitals and changing services. They are calling this the Transforming Health program. Personally, I see it as the 'Trashing Health' program. One of the most disgraceful decisions under this program in South Australia has been the closure of the repat hospital, the war veterans' hospital, in my electorate of Boothby. I was at the bombing of Darwin ceremony last weekend in my electorate in the heritage-listed chapel
on the repat hospital site. I heard firsthand the distress that our veterans feel about the closure of this wonderful hospital that has served them for some 70 years. It is also a really important community facility, particularly for elderly people in my electorate. It is just another example of Labor's appalling record on health.

Labor has brought chaos to South Australia's health system. Given another chance to govern, those opposite would undoubtedly do the same to not just South Australia but the entire nation.