PRESS CONFERENCE, TOOWOOMBA
27 September 2023
Subjects: Rural and regional healthcare, Toowoomba Urgent Care Clinic, Charleville Forum
GARTH HAMILTON MP: This [the Hope Horizons Cancer Wellness Centre] is a great example of the community telling government what it wants and what it needs. And it's so wonderful to have the Shadow Minister for Health here coming to listen and to hear our concerns, hear what our community needs. It's fantastic. It shows that we are interested in regional Australia and we want better outcomes here in Toowoomba.
SENATOR ANNE RUSTON: Well, it's fantastic to be here in Toowoomba with Garth and having a look around your amazing community, and also thank you to Jo and for the opportunity to have a look at what the community has been able to achieve here in Toowoomba by working together. I think this is an amazing example that we could be showing to the rest of Australia how a grassroots community investment in the health and wellbeing of their community can be achieved. And I cannot tell you how impressed I have been seeing this, what we've seen here today. But it comes at a time when I think it demonstrates that our health system is struggling and, you know, I commend the Toowoomba community for actually doing it themselves and actually getting out and providing a service that's much needed in their community. But it does highlight the fact that our health systems across Australia are struggling here in Queensland. We know that the health system is under enormous pressure, whether it be hospital ramping. But the thing that probably drives home to me more than anything else being out here in Toowoomba, in regional Queensland, is that we must stop being so city-centric when we are coming up with solutions to the health problems that we have in this country. We should not have our health outcomes in Australia determined by your postcode. We should not have our health outcomes determine by how far you are away from the metropolitan area. So I think we've got an example here today where we have a community that's actually taken matters into their own hands, but that is not the case across the whole of Australia. And it's a really sad indictment that as I'm standing here today, the Albanese Government promised an Urgent Care Clinic into this community prior to the last election. Today, we still don't have one. Instead, I'm standing here talking to you about an amazing achievement of your local community, when the promise by the Federal Government still hasn't been delivered. So I think the Toowoomba community has every right to be demanding of the Albanese Labor Government that they deliver their Urgent Care Clinic so that they make sure that this community is supported, and we're not always relying on the amazing philanthropic work of the people who've come together to pull this particular project together, because I think Australians deserve more from their Federal Government.
JOURNALIST: Anne, there's a forum out in Charleville today which is being held by a bunch of local leaders and they have reached out to a lot of senators and politicians at federal and state levels. And this morning they were telling me that only one, I think it was Susan McDonald, has turned up. Were you aware that was being held out there this morning?
RUSTON: No, I wasn't aware of it. Although, I must say that a friend of mine has been sending me text messages this morning and actually talking about much of what's been going on out at Charleville and saying, you know, Susan is well and truly across the health and aged care brief and that has been an issue that has been raised a lot this morning. Disappointingly, you know, if I - particularly given that I actually was in Queensland this week - having had the opportunity to go, I would have liked to. But I must say from my understanding of what's happened this morning, that Susan has been well and truly across the brief in terms of health and aged care. But, once again an example of, you know, we need to be dealing with the same level of urgency, effort and enthusiasm in rural and regional Australia when it comes to health and aged care, as we our in our cities.
JOURNALIST: Because I guess the difference is between regional and city, they don't always cross over. What works in one place doesn't work in Charleville versus Toowoomba, for example.
RUSTON: Well, absolutely. And I think the other idea that, you know, you're talking about city and non-city, or non-metropolitan. Nothing could be further from the truth. If you're talking about remote communities, their needs are often very different to rural communities and often their needs are very different to regional centres like we're standing in here. The idea that you have a one-size-fits-all response to health and aged care in this country is just ludicrous. And, you know, to quote a saying from somebody else, if you've seen one rural town, you've seen one rural town. And I think the idea that policy makers actually speak to communities and understand the unique situation and circumstances in that community before they develop a response would actually see much, much better health outcomes for our rural, regional and remote communities in this country.
HAMILTON: We see Labor make a big fuss every time they go out West. They go put a little costume on, a new Akubra, some RMs and make a big fuss when they go West. We're here every day. This is where we live. We understand these communities, we listen to them, and that's exactly what we're doing today. It completely discredits everything that they're talking about that they wouldn't even invite the Shadow Minister. You know, this is just show from Labor. It's not real. It's got no substance.