Tuesday, 7 February 2023
Subjects: Ovarian Cancer Month, workforce shortages in regional Australia, 887 regional visas
Good morning February is Ovarian Cancer Month and we're recognising that here in Parliament House, we are recognising the extraordinary efforts of our research community to combat this deadly disease. With four Australian women diagnosed every day it is a serious disease and it's one that every parliamentarian knows breaks hearts in their electorates in their communities, and often amongst their family and friends.
So my message to women who receive this deadly diagnosis is that there is always hope. Research kicked off by the Coalition's Medical Research Future Fund is making a difference. It's making a difference to people whose lives are affected by ovarian cancer and that's something we will work harder and harder toward.
Shadow Health Minister Anne Ruston is an Ambassador for Ovarian Cancer Month and for the activities that take place in this building, particularly this breakfast. She contributes to give recognition that we want to give more support and want to see more research into combating ovarian cancer. Anne will be an important part of the discussions that everyone in this building will have going forward, Senator Ruston.
Thank you very much. It's a great honour to have been asked to be an Ambassador for Ovarian Cancer month, particularly like so many Australians I have been touched by ovarian cancer with a very dear and close friend dying from this terrible disease. Sadly, we know all cancers effect Australians, but of those that inflict women, your likelihood of survival from ovarian cancer is the lowest of any cancer that affects women.
So that's why as Sussan said it's so important that we continue to invest in medical research, particularly so that we can find early detection methods so that we can actually get women treated much earlier. Because unfortunately ovarian cancer doesn't present itself with symptoms very early, often these advanced stage of the disease before it's diagnosed means that unfortunately, many, many Australian women's lives are lost. So we will continue to put pressure on the Government, to follow the work we did in government to make sure that investment in medical research, into the cancers like ovarian cancer, are an absolute top priority.
But we know having come out of covid we saw that screening and testing for a wide range of diseases was put off, you know, elective surgeries were put off and we now see that we're facing massive workforce challenges to make sure that our healthcare and our aged care sectors have got the workforce they need.
So it was very, very distressing to find that once again, we woke up this morning to more headlines to find out that this government actually put the processing of 887 visas, which are the skilled visas for rural and regional Australia areas in the slow lane.
So doctors, nurses, teachers, care workers, who have come to Australia and want to work in rural and regional Australia have been stuck in the slow lane whilst their counterparts in metropolitan areas are being fast tracked. And we call on the Government to immediately reverse this decision.
This comes on top the first decision by the Health Minister, when he came in was to actually allow international medical graduates that previously had been required to do a stint in the country, in rural and regional areas, before they moved to the city, they can now go straight to the city. We saw this Government cut 70 telehealth services from the Medicare rebate lists. These are the kinds of services that help Australians who live in regional, rural and remote communities because they often have to drive a long way to be able to see a doctor.
So what we say to this government is stop making rural and regional and remote people in this country the poor cousins and we would call on the Government to reverse their decision around the 887 regional skilled visas absolutely immediately.
Because once again, if we cannot get access to medical support, if we're finding that these rebates for things like psychological support for the mental health, like the telehealth services, it's just another cost of living burden on Australia. And we know that cost of living pressure is the most important thing facing Australians as we sit here today. That's why it's so important that we address this and all the other cost of living measures that need to be prioritised by this government to relieve Australians who are under pressure.
Well Australians are bracing themselves for another hit to their mortgages today and to their cost of living. Under Anthony Albanese, everything is going up except your wages.
Of course, we remember the Prime Minister's promise that life will be cheaper under Labor and that is clearly not the case.
[Lifts image of The Australian front page 2 May 2022 (attached)]
With the average mortgage costing now over $1,400 a month extra and this year alone 800,000 Australians coming off their fixed mortgage rate onto variable rates we know that the forecast increased to rates today is really going to hit them hard.
It feels as if Anthony Albanese, and this Labor Government does not understand the pain that ordinary Australians will experience as a result of yet another hit to their cost of living.
This is a government that made so many promises that life would be cheaper under them so where is Labor's plan? Where is Labor's plan to reduce the cost of living pressures for ordinary Australians?
What would the Coalition do if you were in government then because obviously there are a lot of overseas pressures? What would you do?
Well, let's not forget that when Labor made these announcements they came off the back of all of these overseas pressures being known. These were not new. The international environment was not new. Anthony Albanese knew the situation that he was inheriting when he came to government. Every government needs to deal with what they are confronted with and every government needs to act in response to the circumstances they face.
All we have seen from this government is sitting on their hands, diagnosing the problem over and over again and complaining about the international situation. What we have not seen is a plan. Today of all days is the day that we need to see that plan.
Can the Government deliver cost of living support without causing inflation?
Well certainly not if we see Dr. Chalmers’ confused bewildered change to the approach that western liberal democracies have been successful with over generations. So if this government is starting to look at the Treasurer's approach to managing the economy, then that's a serious concern. What we need is the Prime Minister to back in the promises he made. What we need is a prime minister to show the leadership that every prime minister should, to do what he said he would do, and that is to leave no Australian behind.
Alcohol bans will be reinstated in Alice Springs should they have been allowed to lapse in the first place?
The alcohol bans should not have been allowed to lapse and I welcome the measures that the Government has taken and I welcome the funding that they've provided to the Northern Territory. Unfortunately, we have seen heartbreak, distress and extraordinary violence against women and children. So with this latest measure, I would like to see a guarantee that the Alcohol Management Plans that communities support are done without coercion within that communities and above all, that women and children are protected.
Your reaction on Lidia Thorpe leaving The Greens?
Well the thing with Lidia Thorpe is it is always about Lidia. I would just say she was elected to be a Senator for Victoria, she's paid by the taxpayer to be a Senator for Victoria, and I will simply ask her to reflect on that today.
The Greens have now confirmed they will support the Voice when will the Liberal Party come to a position?
The Liberal Party will go through its normal processes as we always do, as we discuss matters, important matters, within our party room. Peter Dutton and our Shadow Attorney General Julian Leeser attended an information session and answered perhaps some questions, but it raised more. There is much, much more detail that Australians are demanding and there's no need for Anthony Albanese to hang on to this detail. He needs to explain it carefully.
Remember, you don't get a blank cheque on the Constitution. This is significant constitutional reform and Australia's have every right to want to know that detail looks like.
What's your personal view, though aside? Obviously, this lack of detail, do you think that we should decide if there's detail?
Well as Deputy Leader of the Liberal Party and of the Opposition, it's important that everyone within our party has their say. It's important that we consider a huge range of points of view, where there are differences in views.
It's important, however, that the Government provides the detail. Remember that when we were in government, we initiated a process of the Voice at the regional level. That's what I saw as being valuable in terms of indigenous reconciliation, because what that meant was that across Australia, in rural and regional areas, where Senator Ruston and I come from, small communities had their say, communities that might think differently from the bigger cities had their say. That was a process that actually demonstrated community involvement and answered the community's questions. Anthony Albanese’s process is not answering the community's questions.
By the end of this month, you're going to see both sides, the Yes and No campaigns launched officially. Can we expect an official position from the Liberal Party by then?
We'll work through these issues as we normally do within our party room in our party structures.