Speech to South Australian Parliament 
24 June 2010
Mr VAN HOLST PELLEKAAN (Stuart) (11:46): Thank you, Madam Deputy Speaker. I appreciate the brief comments from the member for Fisher. I am here to support the member for Schubert in his motion. To me, the most important part of this motion is the second part: (b) condemns the Rann Labor government for its continued failure to address the issues of equity in the provision of health services in regional South Australia. Very clearly, what he means is in regional South Australia compared to Adelaide. That is really what I am here to talk about. I am a little bit disappointed to hear the member for Light. I think the longer he stays in the Labor government and the longer the urban sprawl overtakes his electorate, the less he is interested in the real country.

I am here to represent the people of Stuart. We have hospitals in Port Augusta, Kapunda, Eudunda, Peterborough, Jamestown, Orroroo, Boolaroo Centre, Burra and Leigh Creek—good country hospitals, which are relied upon by every single person who lives in those communities and the people who work very hard in them as well. The people who work in those hospitals and do their very best to provide services for local people are— Mr Piccolo interjecting: Mr PENGILLY: Point of order: 131.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER: Point of order 131; would you like to describe that to me in detail, member for Finniss?
Mr PENGILLY: A member may not interrupt another member who is speaking. Members interjecting:
The DEPUTY SPEAKER: Member for Finniss! I have to say that is incredibly naughty, because I have watched you from the august place of the back bench for many years interject like there is no tomorrow. There is no point of order, member for Finniss. Nice try, but no banana. Please carry on, member for Stuart. Mr VAN HOLST PELLEKAAN: They are nine very important country hospitals that provide services to people all throughout the electorate of Stuart. That is what the member for Schubert is talking about, in Stuart, in Schubert, in Flinders, in Chaffey, all around regional South Australia, and talking about the inequity of delivery of services and the inequity of priority of this government, for health services, to regional areas compared to the metro area. I am quite happy to say, as I did yesterday, health is a very difficult portfolio, very difficult. Regardless of who is in government—Liberal or Labor—it is a toughie. I am not here to give any individual person a hard time about the difficulty of the portfolio. What I am here to do is talk about the inequity of priorities. I was supported very well yesterday by both the health minister and the Treasurer who provided information on that. The health minister said, and I am reading from


: ...$630.4 million will be spent on public hospitals and health services in country South Australia. This is $250 million, or 66 per cent, more than in 2001-02, the last year of the former Liberal government...I can assure the member [s] that there has not been an inflation rate of 66 per cent since 2002.
The Treasurer, at another time yesterday, said:
Health expenditure is running, on the most generous assessment at 8 per cent per year but, when one really looks at the wage inflation of the profession and the technical advancements that we are continually and thankfully making in health, health costs are running more in the order of 9 to 11 per cent compounding per year. You only have to look at the fact that, since the last Liberal government (so, eight years ago) we were spending, say, $2 billion. T hat is in eight years. That is so far in excess of inflation.
So, two big points: they claim, in nominal spending terms, a 100 per cent increase in spending over that period in the city and they claim, in nominal terms, a 66 per cent increase in spending in regional areas in country health. That is an inequity, clearly, as stated by both of those ministers yesterday. The other thing I would like to say, very clearly, is that I do not think the numbers are quite right. Based on what the Treasurer said yesterday, inflation in the health sector is 9 per cent to 11 per cent per annum.

Dr McFetridge: 12 per cent he said.

Mr VAN HOLST PELLEKAAN: That will make the case even more strongly for you, thank you, shadow minister. Let us use 10 per cent because it is a good easy number and smack in the middle of what


says that the Treasurer said yesterday. A 10 per cent compounding inflation rate over eight years is 114 per cent; 114 per cent to just keep pace with the spending that would have been required to spend, in real terms, the same amount of money to, in real terms, provide the same amount of service has gone backwards.

The Treasurer claims that 100 per cent is fantastic. Guess what? It should have been 114 just to keep even. The health minister claims 66 per cent in the country is fantastic. Guess what? It should have been 114 per cent, nearly double, to just keep even. So, two major points: the government is not spending nearly as much, by percentage increase, in the country as it is in the city, and it is not even keeping pace with the industry's inflation rate, as mentioned by the Treasurer yesterday. That is very clearly an inequity by this government with regard to support for country health versus metro health in Adelaide.

The issues with regard to country health, very broadly, have been outlined very well by the people who spoke before me. Everybody understands that taking away country health boards was a disgraceful move. Moving them to the health advisory committees (HACs) and taking genuine people in country areas away from having responsibility for their hospitals was just disgraceful. We go back to the Liberal Party's pre-election promise, a very sensible promise: rebuild the RAH where it is and spend the savings on health throughout the rest of the state. That would have looked after regional health. That would have looked after the people in those nine hospitals in Stuart and lots of others throughout the rest of regional South Australia. That is the way to look after regional people: spread the savings. Don't waste more and more money building a new rail yards hospital where a revamp onsite would have been very good.

I remember very well, about a year and a half ago, going to public meetings, where hundreds and hundreds of people in towns all over regional South Australia turned out because they understand that they are getting dudded. It is not just the opposition saying, 'We are not happy.' It is not just the opposition trying to give the government a hard time, and it is not just the opposition providing factual information to show that regional communities have not been looked after in the same way that Adelaide has. People know. People who work in those hospitals, people who work in emergency services, people who are volunteers in ambulance services, people who are doctors, all sorts of people, let alone the patients, understand that they are getting dudded.

One of the most disgraceful ways that the people of regional South Australia are being dudded by this government when it comes to the provision of health services, is in a very sneaky, sly, underhanded attrition, trying to wear people down, taking services away so that they cannot be accessed, so that they can then say, 'They weren't accessed, there wasn't a line up, there wasn't a queue, nobody cared, so we don't need them any more.'

I will give you a very good example of that: the Hawker hospital, which went without a doctor for about six months, so the people from the Hawker district had to start going to the Quorn hospital. No doubt they got excellent service from the Quorn hospital and from the doctors and staff there. Guess what? None went to the Hawker hospital. The patients did not go to the Hawker hospital because there was no doctor there. Now you look at the statistics of people turning up at the Hawker hospital for service and the people turning up at the Quorn hospital for service and the government says, 'There's lots of people going to Quorn, there's no-one going to Hawker, so fait accompli, we don't need to reinstate the doctor.' Now that is just disgraceful. That is absolutely sly and disgraceful, and not looking after country people the way they should be.

The member for Finniss mentioned travel and he talked about the difficulties. Before the election, we offered $4 million extra for PATS (Patient Assistance Transport Scheme), which is very important. It would not be important to the member for Light because his people do not live far enough away from health services, but, in country areas, it is very important. That is the sort of thing that enables people to come to the city for medical treatment. I understand that not every single service will be provided in every single hospital, but providing things like that supports the health system in regional South Australia. It is not only about hospitals but also about supporting the communities more broadly so that they can get access to the services they need.

I finish by asking one simple question. Yesterday, both the Treasurer and the health minister incorrectly said that, over the last eight years, their spending in health has kept up with inflation in the health industry at 10 per cent (as they said). They have put it at 66 per cent in regional South Australia and 100 per cent in the city. Clearly, there is an inequity. What I would like to know is: what has the inflation rate been in pandas? What has the inflation rate been in trams? What has the inflation rate been in money given to Lance Armstrong compared to the increase in money given to rural health and people living in country South Australia to address their health needs? Thank you, Madam Deputy Speaker



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