19 September 2019
Media release: Liberals and Nationals vote against regional hospital boost
Following an ABC Four Corners episode highlighting tragedies in regional hospitals, the Liberals and Nationals voted down a motion to boost regional healthcare funding in NSW Parliament on Wednesday.
The public interest debate motion, led by Murray SFF MP Helen Dalton, called on NSW Parliament to recognise the crisis in regional healthcare, audit all regional hospital to identify gaps in services and commit to boost funding to fill these gaps.
In response, NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard moved to delete the entire wording of Mrs Dalton’s motion and replace it with a motion stating the NSW Government has done more than any other government in history to improve regional healthcare.
He also attacked Mrs Dalton personally, saying she was too argumentative.
“Mr Speaker, if you want to find out how sick someone is, what’s the first thing you should check?” Mrs Dalton said in her speech.
“Their blood pressure? Temperature? Pulse? Heart beat?”
“No, the first thing you should check is their postcode”
“Because in NSW, where you live, determines how long you will live”
“ABC’s Four Corners brought [a] crisis into the spotlight last week. In regional hospitals across Australia, people are dying early due to one thing, lack of funding,”
“Twenty years ago, people in regional NSW actually lived longer, on average, than those in Sydney,”
“In my part of the world, Murrumbidgee, we now die five years earlier. In the far west, it’s a six-year death gap.”
“If this government can build a $500 million Broken Hill pipeline in less than a year, bypassing all due process, there’s no reason why nearby regional hospitals should be waiting more than decade for much needed upgrades”.
Mrs Dalton highlighted a number of problems in regional hospitals she said were related directly to lack of funding, including the fact Leeton hospital has been without a single doctor on-call for 12 of the past 14 days.
Independent Wagga MP Joe McGirr, a doctor, also spoke in favour of the motion. But Mr Hazzard’s amended wording was passed 48-42 by the House.
A petition calling on the NSW Government to address problems with hospitals in the Murrumbidgee Local Health District has thus far garnered more than 7,000 signatures. Copies of the petition can be found at https://helen4murray.com/petition-to-improve-health-services-across-murray/