NSW Health

I defend this motion to ensure that we debate health in this State. We are at the thin end of the wedge. I urge Government members who represent regional areas to stand with us to protect public health in our State. Their communities, like mine, are at risk of losing their public hospitals under the Baird-Grant Government. Last week in this Chamber, after five years of the promise being on the table, the Minister for Health finally revealed that public-private partnerships would be implemented for Wyong, Shellharbour, Bowral, Goulburn and Maitland.

For the past five years the Government has promised to build a new lower Hunter hospital. Government members are not interested in this debate; they just watch and do nothing while their communities are sold out. The Minister for Health has refused to meet with me to discuss health in my electorate. I have made 12 representations to her about Maitland Hospital and on every occasion she has failed to answer me. In fact, in my first question in this place I asked the Minister when the first patients would be seen at Maitland Hospital. In a typical display of Baird Government arrogance, she said, "When it is built". The Minister for Health does not have a plan for the hospital except to sell it off. The Premier should make sure that his Ministers are accountable to our communities. It is no wonder that our communities do not trust this Government because it lies.

We want these hospitals to be public and we want mandated staffing ratios. This is about ensuring that when people go to hospital it does not matter whether or not they are presenting their Medicare card. We want full public accountability in our hospitals. We do not want a two-tiered Americanised system of health, which is what this Opposition is offering our communities. We will have a two-tiered system, as we know from discussions about this issue in Frenchs Forest on the Northern Beaches. They talked about special little services for private patients at extra cost. This is about $15 million worth of funding cut by the Federal Government and $3 billion cut by the State Liberal‑Nationals Government, and the Government expects that a private operator will be able to screw even more profit out of patients in this State. It is a disgrace.

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