p>Labor welcomes today’s release of a National Diabetes Strategy but is concerned that today’s announcement contains little beyond rebadging and reannouncing initiatives of the former Labor Government.
Labor welcomes today’s release of a National Diabetes Strategy but is concerned that today’s announcement contains little beyond rebadging and reannouncing initiatives of the former Labor Government.
With over 1.1 million Australians diagnosed with Type 1, Type 2 and gestational diabetes and numbers growing by 100,000 a year, action to tackle this urgent health crisis is much needed.
Under Labor, governments across Australia recognised the significance of this challenge when the Council of Australian Governments signed the National Partnership Agreement on Preventive Health.
This Agreement provided $872 million over nine years from 2009/10 to address the rising prevalence of lifestyle related chronic illness.
In 2011 Labor also extended the National Diabetes Services Scheme by five years, providing $1 billion for Australians with diabetes to access over 4 million products annually to self-manage their condition.
Labor acknowledges the contribution of Diabetes Australia in helping to develop the strategy and assist Australians to tackle this unprecedented national health epidemic.
However, I am disappointed, and surprised to see today’s announcement contains little beyond rebadging and reannouncing initiatives that were in place under Labor.
The “historic new Health Food Partnership” is actually just a relaunch of a Labor body that has not sat for two years under the Liberal Government.
Labor’s National Food and Health Dialogue comprised public health bodies and industry and supermarkets and was charged with food reformulation, action on portion sizes and increasing intake of fresh food and vegetables but has not met since this government was elected.
The Health Star rating that is correctly listed as a key part of the strategy to tackle a major cause of Type 2 Diabetes is another Labor initiative that Minister Nash tried to scuttle and was only reinstated following controversy surrounding conflicts of interest in her office.
The Government is correct to highlight the crucial role of prevention, but this is at odds with its record of cutting hundreds of millions out of preventive health programs, including those designed to tackle obesity and prevent diabetes.
Any strategy to promote healthy eating will collapse if the government extends the GST to basic foods, adding hundreds of dollars a year to supermarket bills and encouraging even greater consumption of junk food.
And while the strategy recognizes the vital role of Medicare in supporting people with diabetes, again, this is at odds with the government’s repeated attempts to impose a GP Tax designed to stop patients seeing their doctor.
There are few more serious, and costly health issues in Australia than diabetes, and Labor supports any moves to tackle this massive, and growing health crisis.
Unfortunately, today’s announcement mainly amounts to the rebadging of Labor initiatives, many of which are directly undermined by the Government’s attacks on Medicare and deep cuts to preventive health programs