90 Second Statement

Mr FITZGIBBON (Hunter) (13:53):  There is no more-important role for a government than to ensure that its constituents, the people of Australia, have access to affordable high-quality health care. No-one understands that more acutely than those of us who represent seats in rural and regional Australia. We heard in the contribution of the member for Bendigo that she understands this only too well. Sadly, we have not heard it from the member for Eden-Monaro, the member for Flynn or the member for Capricornia, who join us in the House today.

In my own rural electorate, bulk-billing issues have been with us for decades. Over the six years of the Labor government we significantly reduced bulk-billing rates through a range of health initiatives. Unfortunately, my constituents and constituents right around rural and regional Australia are now confused. They do not know what is in store for them, because the government keeps backflipping and flip-flopping and changing its health policy. They do know one thing without any question: they know that this government has never understood the importance of high-quality, affordable health care in rural and regional Australia. They also know only too well from experience that this is a government that does not have their interests in mind. No matter what the outcome of the government's internal divisions, my constituents know instinctively that bad things are coming for them on the health front and that Labor is committed to fighting the government all the way on this very important issue.

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