Monday, 18 June 2012
Questions without Notice
My question is to the Minister representing the Minister for Health and Ageing, Senator Ludwig. Can the minister please outline to the Senate what the government is doing to invest in health care and hospitals in Tasmania?
I thank Senator Urquhart for her continuing interest in health. I know we on this side have a longstanding commitment to improving health care and hospitals for the long term. The senator is quite right to identify the importance of health care and hospitals, and this government has been strongly investing in them and the services they provide to all Australians. We are investing $325 million to help get Tasmania's health system back on track. The Gillard government is taking important steps to support Tasmania's health system to cope with an older population, higher rates of chronic disease and health system constraints. The support package will address the unique challenges faced by this state. What this shows is that the Gillard Labor government does not just talk about improving health care for Australians; it actually goes and gets the work done.
The money will pay for elective surgery, new clinics, mental health and specialist training—actions that will ease immediate pressures and equip Tasmania's health system to meet future challenges through the following investments over the next four years. There is $31 million for elective surgery. There will be two new walk-in health centres in Hobart and Launceston costing $22 million. There is $48 million to improve care in the community. There is additional money for post-discharge and palliative care and funding for medical specialist training, mental health services and the rollout of personal electronic health record systems in local hospitals.
These investments respond to the ideas that frontline clinicians have told the minister for health will be the best way to assist Tasmania's health system. The investment will also better position Tasmania to meet the goals and targets of the national health reform. Why? Because the Labor government is committed to seeing more services on the ground for Tasmanians— (Time expired)
Mr President, I have a supplementary question. Given the government's record of investment in health and hospitals in Tasmania and across Australia, can the minister outline the track record of the government in this regard? Why is investment in health care and hospitals so important?
The Gillard government has made a once-in-a-generation health reform agreement with the states and territories. It will mean more beds, more funding, more transparency, less bureaucracy, less waste and less waiting for patients. When it comes to the stagnant performance in health spending, you have to look no further than the Leader of the Opposition, Mr Abbott, who cut $1 billion when he was health minister and who is now searching for $70 billion of service cuts. Labor's health reform will ensure 1,300 more subacute beds are available and that we have better emergency departments and more elective surgery. To fill the $70 billion of cuts to services, Mr Abbott would have to cut those and much, much more. Labor's health reform will keep people healthy and out of hospital, providing more health services closer to home. This includes— (Time expired)
Mr President, I ask a further supplementary question. Given that the government is committed to the future of health and hospitals for the benefit of all Australians, are there any uncertainties when it comes to health funding into the future? And how can the government ensure that those investments will result in improved health services for Tasmania?
I have outlined to the Senate the areas in which we know the Liberals and Nationals will make cuts to health and hospital services. They will have to find the $70 billion worth of cuts—and they will take it out of health, I have no doubt. The great uncertainty for all Australians is that the Liberals and Nationals have not announced just where those cuts are likely to come from. But, given their record, we know on this side that they will be making service cuts in health and hospitals. The Liberals and Nationals stand for only one thing: the power of no—no to health reform, no to PBS reform, no to private health insurance reform, no to a Preventive Health Agency, no to better health and hospital funding, no to extra front-line services. The Nationals always call for more services to regional Australia. I call on them to stand up to the power of no from their coalition partners. The Nationals should safeguard things like the $160 million for— (Time expired)