No amount of spin can hide the fact today’s dental announcement hides another $1 billion health cut by the Turnbull Government.
It also can’t hide the fact the government is scrapping a scheme that has already helped a million kids access badly needed dental care, many of whom had previously never before been able to afford to see a dentist.
This is a scheme that in a major embarrassment for the minister, the government’s own review hailed as a success.
“In particular, the Panel noted the success of the CDBS in targeting the oral health of young Australians at an age where preventative health measures can be most effective.”
Report on the Third Review of The Dental Benefits Act, 2008, page ix
Now that well targeted scheme is being scrapped, and replaced by a scheme that few children will be able to benefit from.
Under the government’s scheme, children will only receive assistance if they attend already overcrowded public dental clinics.
In its first two budgets the Abbott government cut half a billion dollars out of these same public dental services, causing public dental waiting lists to blow out across the country.
In Tasmania the wait to attend one of these clinic is nearly three years and there are already 100,000 people waiting for public dental care in NSW.
Many regional and rural Australians live too far away from public dental services to ever be able to access these clinics.
By contrast Labor’s $2.7 billion dental program has provided 1 million Australian children with affordable dental care over the past two years, many of them children whose parents had never previously been able to afford a dentist.