Sick Australians living in rural and regional areas are being hit hardest by the Abbott Government’s unfair Budget because the National Party has comprehensively failed to stand up to the Liberals.
A so-called achievements document released today by the National Party failed to identify a single achievement that meets their pre-election promises, including to -
“… provide increased financial support for doctors who provide health services in regional and remote communities, through increased Medicare rebates and scheduled fees loaded on top of regular Medicare billings, which will increase according to remoteness.”
[Our Plan for Regional Australia, page 45]
Labor’s Spokesperson for Rural and Regional Health, Stephen Jones says there is not one mention of how National members have stood up for patients in their electorates on a single general health policy.
“It’s obvious the National Party will keep rolling over for their Liberal Party colleagues when it comes to rural and regional health policy.”
Mr STEPHEN JONES (Throsby) (16:17): The legislation before the House today, the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (Repeal) Bill 2014, is part of the government's dogged campaign to destroy and dismantle the policies and the programs that were put in place by the former government to implement a clean energy future. We have seen it with the legislation to dismantle the price on carbon—something that I will return to during my address; the attempts to kill the Clean Energy Finance Corporation, an organisation to set up and fund on a commercial basis those commercial projects which are very bankable but which, for reasons best known to the banking sector, are not attracting the finance that they should otherwise deserve; and, of course, the bill before the House today, the bill to abolish the Australian Renewable Energy Agency.
We knew that we were in a bit of strife with this package of reforms when we heard that devastating admission by the Treasurer himself, who told us that he breaks out in a sweat every time he drives past a wind farm. It must be a terrible trip from North Sydney down to Canberra, as he has to avert his eyes as he drives past the wind farms on Lake George. But never mind; like some latter-day Don Quixote riding his wooden horse, he comes in here waving his wooden sword and says, 'I'm going to do away with all of that'—not tilting at windmills but destroying them. That is what this legislation is designed to do. This legislation—and the whole approach of this government since they were elected—is to dismantle the package of reforms that were put in place to give us a clean energy future.
The campaign to recognise Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People in our Constitution hit regional Australia today with the Illawarra community turning out in force for a forum hosted by Stephen Jones and Senator Nova Peris.
“Ultimately this is an opportunity for all Australians to celebrate 40,000 years of this nation’s history and add to the last 226”, said Senator Peris.
“The recognise campaign is a great opportunity for two cultures to unite as one. It is about being inclusive, not exclusive and something we should all get behind.”
Stephen Jones says Australians must get behind constitutional recognition and make the most of the opportunity of bi-partisan support from both sides of politics.
“Today is about ensuring we can convert that Parliamentary support into widespread community support”, said Jones.
“In 1967 the Australian Government ran a referendum to change the constitution to make laws for all Australians and include Aboriginal people in the Census. It was overwhelmingly endorsed by Australians, winning 90.77 per cent of votes and carrying in all six states.
“Constitutional recognition will builds on this win and should make further substantive change to remove racism from the Constitution.
“It is a statement of historical truth that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People have lived here for over 40,000 years, and it is long overdue.”
“It is imperative that all Australians are on-board with the journey towards constitutional recognition. That’s part of the reason for my visit to the Illawarra today”, said Senator Peris.
“We will be working hard to engage with communities across the country to demonstrate the importance of Aboriginal Australians to our national history and culture, and showcase what a positive step constitutional recognition will be for all Australians.”
Mr STEPHEN JONES (Throsby) (15:35): On this side of the House, all Labor members of parliament are celebrating a very important anniversary. This month marks the 40th anniversary of the passage through the federal parliament of the bills which brought Medicare into place—the introduction of the most historic healthcare reforms in this country. It did not come easily. Gough Whitlam took the Medicare policy to three elections and still could not convince those opposite to support the legislation. So we saw the first and only joint sitting of parliament, which was convened to break the deadlock with the Senate. But even after the legislation was voted up by a joint sitting of parliament, did those opposite give up? The answer is no. A defiant leader of the coalition, one William Snedden, made a firm promise which echoes down the generations. He said: 'We'll fight this till it is finished because that is what we believe in.' So while we on this side of the House hold the flame for universal health care, those on the other side of the House are the heirs to that solemn promise of Billy Snedden's. They were doing it in 1975 and they are doing it today: they are trying to wreck universal health care in this country.
Sharon Bird and Stephen Jones today expressed concern following the release of Government documents that reveal that 8 local schools are at risk of losing their welfare officers due to the Abbott Government’s decision to only fund religious chaplains.
The High Court ruled that it was invalid for payments to be made directly by the Commonwealth to schools under the program, the Federal Government is now giving the money to states and territories to administer, but on the condition it is used to only fund religious chaplains.
“School principals and their communities know what is best for their students – they should be able to make the call on what their students need – not Christopher Pyne and Tony Abbott,” Sharon Bird said.
“There was a high level of complains under the religious-only chaplains program put in place by the Howard Government – in Government Labor expanded the program so local school communities had the choice of hiring a qualified welfare officer or counsellor, not just a religious chaplain.
“Local welfare officers have trusted relationships within the school community. The interests of students should be the focus – not Christopher Pyne and Tony Abbott’s radical ideology,” Stephen Jones said.
“The Government needs to advise what safeguards will be put in place to ensure that students interests remain of utmost importance.
*Link attached with each of the 452 schools across Australia who have employed welfare offices attached. Schools with welfare officers are marked with SWW under Worker Type column: http://www.aph.gov.au/~/media/Committees/eet_ctte/estimates/bud_1415/Education/Answers/ED0237_15_attachmentA.pdf