Today I wish to discuss the Labor Government’s Country Health Plan.
I am part of the Liberal Task Force which has been formed to look into Labor’s plan and I can pass onto the house that country people are not happy – in fact they’re furious.
I was at a community meeting in Tumby Bay last week and people are confused and they’re angry.
As Liberal Task Force Leader Rob Kerin said recently, “I haven’t seen an outpouring of community concern like this in all my years in politics.”
“What the Rann Government has forgotten here is that there are thousands of voters in metropolitan seats who spend their holidays in rural and regional centres. They will be reminded, for example, that 40% of ratepayers on the Yorke Peninsula normally live in Adelaide. Hundreds of thousands of Adelaideans holiday right across regional South Australia.”
I’m certain many of these people will attend a rally outside Norwood Oval this Saturday morning to let the Rann Government know what they think of the plan.
We had a fantastic turnout for the first rally on the steps of Parliament and I am sure that country and city people will turn out together in force to essentially ‘maintain the rage’ against the Government’s unfair plan.
The bureaucrats in the back office have had a huge win with the country health plan. They have no understanding about country communities and the delivery of country services.
75 to 80 per cent of rural South Australians who want anything other than simple health care will need to make a trip to Adelaide.
If you look at where 80 per cent of the people in South Australia live, they will end up coming to Adelaide for nearly all their medical services. Not good enough. This is one of the most obvious things to come out of the plan but our task force has been looking into a whole range of issues.
One issue that has not been properly considered for example is that we have seen over the past few years in particular that older people are moving out of smaller towns to retire in towns where the 43 downgraded hospitals will be.
Part of the reason they have bought those homes in their retirement is that there is a working hospital in the area. We have been told by some of our constituents that this is an important factor in their move and it makes sense that people want to be close to quality health care in their retirement.
So these people have made their investment and made the move, and this government comes up with this plan to take away the services these people need.
A recent editorial in The Clare Argus was spot on and the Member for Stuart shared it with the other place and if I could share it here, it stated:
“It’s funny how local government is required to ask its communities their opinions on anything from the naming of new roads to the use of community land. Funny because the next couple of tiers of government obviously believe it’s okay to ride roughshod over everyone and everything, making decisions for us—because, presumably, we are incapable of providing useful input.”
And I assure the house it’s not just a few Liberal MPs and a handful of country people who are angry, medical professionals are angry and two of them who were in contact with the Liberal party around the time the plan was announced say it best.
Dr Alison Edwards, medical director with the Mid North Division of Rural Medicine warned the Rann Government;
“As a GP I have served the Port Broughton for 14 years and the Government’s Health Plan will devastate our community, I will be able to treat my patients but not be able to admit them to hospital locally.”
Rural Doctors’ Association of SA president Dr Steve Holmes said the skills of doctors will “wither and die” without access to country hospitals to utilise their expertise.
“People in country towns will lose doctors and a level of health services that city people take for granted. The removal of acute services from hospitals will place an extra burden on ambulance retrievals and force patients and their families to travel hundreds of kilometres. That is an unacceptable standard of care in Australia today.”
The Government has implemented these reforms without consulting rural communities or the doctors who work in them.
I ask members opposite to put pressure on the Minister for Health, tell him to stop listening to the bureaucrats and do the right thing by country people.