Sugar-Coating Bad Policy

2 August, 2022

I want to talk about sugar. The member for Barker has just come in on duty. I wish he'd been here to hear the member for Mayo's address and the member for Mallee's address. If you put the two together you have a description of the whole sugar-coated mess that, within two weeks of the parliament, you have created for regional people in Australia. Just like that. It is one decision that is going to have huge ramifications for every regional area.

We already have a massive shortage of doctors, which I've talked about so many times. My beautiful township of Moe hasn't been able to get doctors for years. It struggles to get doctors. People have to travel to Traralgon and to Trafalgar for any doctors' services. We spend weeks waiting. In Moe it takes six weeks to get in. You're pretty firmly damaged by the time you have to wait for a doctor for six weeks. So what do you do? You go straight to the emergency department in Traralgon or in Morwell, don't you? You have to. What alternative have you got?

Under COVID, and for other reasons when I talk about sugar, the Australian population is becoming more unwell, because our policies don't talk about caring for those people prior to them getting ill. We're quite happy that people are consuming more and more fast food and more and more sugar. People are becoming unwell because of their lifestyle and then expect to go in and get a pill from the doctor to fix it. But things that we should be promoting to make a difference to health care are not being promoted. Many years ago we did. 'Life. Be in it.' was the program, and there have been others since.

But this small change, which they thought would be politically wonderful, really damages the opportunities for our regions. The new Labor government made all its promises on health care, and what did the promoter of this particular scheme say? 'We deliver.'

What was the sugar-coating 12 years ago? It was called: we're going to have 50 super clinics, and they are going to alleviate the hospitals. Fifty of them right across Australia. What did we get in the term of the government? Was it five or nine? And then it was completely forgotten about. By the way, the five, which have probably been being taken over by private organisations, were all in—well, Labor-held seats were the first ones to get up at those times. I'm pretty sure Mildura didn't get one. There were parts of Adelaide that didn't get one. Parts of mostly regional Australia never heard of one, because there was no money to be made in regional Australia.

We have had incentive after incentive for doctors to come. In my time we created a medical school for doctors at Monash University in Latrobe Valley. John Howard gave us 40 places for doctors to be trained. We still have a medical training centre in Warragul because we know, and we knew then, that if you can train a medical person in an area they're likely to, hopefully, fall in love with someone and stay. But that's the only way you're going to get them. You've got to train them in the country so they accept the opportunities in the regions.

This change in policy actually turns its back on the regions and destroys opportunities for people to grow their country communities, because who's going to go to a country community if they can't get a doctor? Who? Who's going to go to Parkes? Who's going to come to my electorate of Monash? No, they're not. It's a typical new government making a crazy mistake. It's a sugar-coated disaster, and that is how it will be seen. The people of my electorate will know exactly how they've been dudded by this government. They've been dudded at the most crucial part of their families' being: the health care by their GP, which they can't find.

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Russell Broadbent MP
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