ALP House of Representatives member for Ballarat Catherine King in Rockhampton
ALP House of Representatives member for Ballarat Catherine King in Rockhampton

Cuts to health budget a threat to Medicare Local

CUTS to the health budget are threatening Central Queensland services, with Federal Shadow Health Minister Catherine King voicing concerns over changes to Medicare Local.

During a trip to Rockhampton yesterday Ms King criticised the Abbott government for cutting the budgets of Medicare Locals across the country.

She said the CQ Medicare Local probably had the highest proportion of services in the country, specifically targeting health services to regional communities.

"In the two years it's been operating it's managed to bring in a large number of allied health professionals, not just in Rockhampton but through the region," she said. "There's a real risk that all those services will be eroded."

She called on Capricornia MP Michelle Landry to lobby Health Minister Peter Dutton to guarantee there will be no reduction to services.

But Ms Landry accused the shadow minister of scaremongering and dismissed claims regional people would be worse off.

"A review is under way into Medicare Locals to make them more efficient and end waste," she said.

"I have already advised the Health Minister about the good work of the CQ Medicare Local team, but on a whole across the country there have been many other failures in Medicare Locals."

There are currently 61 Medicare Local services across the country, but Ms King said there were plans to replace these with 24 primary health networks.

The government will put out a tender for these primary health networks, but Ms King raised concerns it would be focused on privatising services, instead of effectively delivering them to communities.

"I think what the government has been trying to do is set up an argument that health spending is out of control and use that as an excuse to cut it," she said.

She claims in the Central Queensland district $293.2million will be cut from public hospital funding from now until 2017-18, compared to what Labor had agreed to with the state.

Ms Landry questioned Ms King's presence in town, saying the last time she was here as federal sports minister she promised $1.6million to upgrade Browne Park.



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