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Senator for New South Wales

Chair of the Senate Select Committee for Health
26 April, 2015


The impact of the Abbott Governments health policy on Northern Australia will be
investigated by a Senate Select Committee tomorrow as part of a national inquiry
into the health system.
The committee will hold a public hearing at the Litchfield Room in the Northern
Territory Parliament to better understand and document the issues facing health
providers and families and communities in Northern Australia.
Senator Deborah ONeill, Chair of the Senate Select Committee on Health is
committed to ensuring that people living in this region have an opportunity to put
their voice on the record.
This is Day 1 of a five day visit bringing the Parliament to the people of the North in
Darwin, Halls Creek, Kununurra, Katherine, Galiwinku and Mt Isa.
In Darwin, witnesses include Aboriginal Medical Services Alliance of the Northern
Territory (AMSANT), AKA The Purple House, Centre for Remote Health, Red Dust,
Danila Dilba Health Service, Menzies School of Health Research, Australian
Indigenous Doctors Association and the Northern Territory Medicare Local.
My committee and I are here to hear from health service providers and community
members about the impact of reduced federal funding for general practice, Aboriginal
and Torres Strait Islander Health Services, public hospital and other health services.

This government is already cutting $57 billion out of hospitals. Thats bad enough
but at the same time they are doing their best to wreck Medicare as well, Senator
ONeill said.
Despite claiming to have taken the GP Tax off the table, Health Minister Sussan Ley
at a press conference in Canberra recently said, The policy intent was and remains

a good one, which means she still wants to send a price signal to Australians that
will prevent sick people from being able to see their doctor because they will not be
able to afford it.

Senator ONeill said a common theme from the submissions from the Territory was
that the imposition of extra costs for health care would deter people from accessing
vital frontline services to prevent treatable chronic disease, such as kidney disease
and diabetes.
Previous evidence to this committee has confirmed that Aboriginal and Torres Strait
Islander people already report cost as being an important barrier to accessing health
care and medicines.
Any increase in point-of-care costs, for example, through the introduction of the copayments for GP services or an increase in co-payments for prescription medicines,
can be expected to disproportionately affect Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander
Since the Abbott Government tore up the National Health Partnership Agreements
that made Federal and State Governments equally responsible for public health
funding, the costs of providing health care has been shifted to the States and
Territories culminating in massive holes in their budgets.
Its not just unfair to attack universal health care, its foolish. Sick people cannot
work or live well, Senator ONeill said.

To date the inquiry has heard evidence from doctors concerned about the uncertain
future of Medicare, healthcare providers have detailed serious issues with the Abbott
Governments dismantling of Medicare Locals, and Indigenous workers have
outlined the challenges they face in urban and remote Australia.
Labor believes Australians should get the health care they need, not just what they
can afford.
Only Labor will protect ordinary Australian families from the Liberals attempt to
wreck Medicare and push up health costs for people already under financial
pressure, Senator ONeill said.
We are looking forward to talking with locals and receiving their submissions to
document the truth about the impact of the Abbott government cut to health spending
on the well-being of the people of Northern Australia.
Senator ONeill said members of the public are invited to attend. Visit
Contact: Anne Charlton: 0400 433 743

Senate Select Committee on Health First Interim Report is available at



Monday 27 April 2015
Litchfield Room
Northern Territory Parliament,


9.10 am

Menzies School of Health Research

Professor Alan Cass, Director

9.50 am

Australian Indigenous Doctor s' Association Ltd (AIDA) (Submission 97)

Dr Kiarna Brown, Director

10.30 am Break
10.40 am Danila Dilba Health Ser vice
Ms Olga Havnen, Chief Executive Officer
Dr James Stephen, Senior Medical Officer
Ms Joy McLaughlin, Senior Project Officer
11.20 am

Aboriginal Medical Ser vices Alliance of the Northern Terr itory (AMSANT) (Sub
mission 134)
Mr John Paterson, Chief Executive Officer
Mr David Cooper, Manager Research Advocacy Policy
Dr Liz Moore, Public Health Medical Officer

12.00 pm Western Deser t Nganampa Walytja Palyantjaku Tjutaku Aboriginal

Corporation (AKA The Purple House)
Ms Sarah Brown, Chief Executive Officer
12.40 pm Centre for Remote Health - Joint Centre of Flinders and Charles Darwin
Univer sities (via teleconfer ence)
Professor John Wakerman, Associate Dean of Flinders University Northern Territory

1.20 pm

Lunch break

2.00 pm

Red Dust
Mr Darren Smith, Chief Executive Officer (via teleconference)
Ms Colette Davis, Programs Manager (via teleconference)
Mr Jonathan Lindsay-Tjapaltjarri Hermawan, Central Australia Manager

2.40 pm

Northern Terr itory Medicare Local

Dr Andrew Bell, Chair
Ms Judy Davis, Deputy CEO

3.20 pm