THE HON CATHERINE KING MP
SHADOW MINISTER FOR HEALTH AND MEDICARE
FEDERAL MEMBER FOR BALLARAT
LABOR CANDIDATE FOR LONGMAN
FRIDAY, 18 MAY 2018
SUBJECT/S: Hospital funding, private health insurance, citizenship
SUSAN LAMB, LABOR CANDIDATE FOR LONGMAN: Thank you for being here today. We welcome the Shadow Minister Catherine King here to Caboolture Hospital. Can I thank the hospital staff and admin for having us here today. We’re here at Caboolture Hospital, the centrepiece of healthcare for our region – a hospital hat sees over 50,000 emergency department patients every single year. We also have some great programs that are rolled out here that are taking care of our seniors in our community, and our new mums and bubs and families. It’s a hospital that deserves and needs every single cent of funding to help people in our community. So can I invite Catherine to say a few words. Welcome to Caboolture Catherine.
CATHERINE KING, SHADOW MINISTER FOR HEALTH AND MEDICARE: Thanks very much. Look it’s terrific to be here with Susan Lamb, our fantastic candidate for the seat of Longman in this by-election. Can I too thank staff at Caboolture Hospital, what a fantastic tour we’ve had. Looking at the new outpatients, the work they’re doing there for emergency department. Really fantastic staff, clinically engaged right the way through the hospital, trying to improve healthcare for the people of this region.
We have seen also, hearing about the plans the progressive Labor State Government here in Queensland have to invest in this hospital $200 million to redevelop the hospital to improve care for this community. Now again that stands in stark contrast to what the Liberals – what they did here in the state of Queensland and what the Liberals are actually doing in Canberra. We know that this hospital alone has lost $3 million from the 2017 to 2020 year alone – that’s $3 million that could have gone into emergency department care, into outpatient care – some 7000 outpatient appointments that that would have funded. That’s $3 million that’s been cut from this hospital by the Turnbull Government.
Now the Turnbull Government is asking the Queensland Government to sign up to further cuts into the next five years beyond 2020. Labor will not stand for it. We want our hospitals to be properly funded. The staff here, the doctors, the nurses, and allied health professionals who work in this hospital deserve to actually have the resources they need to provide the care for the people of Caboolture.
So last week I was very proud when Bill Shorten announced that Labor will be putting from 2019 $2.8 billion more into our public hospital system than what the Turnbull Government has on offer. We know that that will mean more doctors, more nurses, more beds able to be opened in our hospitals. More outpatient visits, more capacity in our emergency department and more elective surgery. We think our hospitals deserve funding rather than $80 billion worth of tax cuts to our largest corporations, $17 billion to the banks. Labor’s priority is to properly fund our public hospitals and to properly fund out schools. I’m happy to take questions.
JOURNALIST: Just on the new figures on private health insurance. If you cap rebates won’t insurers just find other ways to increase profits like increasing co-payments and won’t they exclude more treatments?
KING: What we’ve said really clearly is that private health insurance is absolutely – and these latest figures show us – is in decline. We’ve seen just yesterday the figures show that private health insurers now increase their profits to another $1.4 billion. That’s $300 for everyone who’s in private health insurance going into private health insurance profits, not into the care of people who need it. We’ve said this industry needs a reset, which is why we will cap rebates for the first two years in office at 2 per cent and also ask the Productivity Commission to take the first serious look at this industry in 20 years. We know that it’s an important sector of the Australian health system but it is a system that is in decline. With again, the latest figures showing more and more people are opting out of private health insurance, downgrading their cover, and we’ve got the lowest level of hospital cover I think since 2011.
JOURNALIST: Are you concerned by reports that two (inaudible) contracted a rare disease and died within days of eachother?
KING: I haven’t heard those reports and that would be a matter for the ACT Government to talk about what it’s actually doing in relation to that. But again, when you’ve got hospitals that are under substantial pressure with resources – my job is to actually make sure that we put more money into our public hospital systems so that we can actually support our great nurses and our great doctors to improve and continue care for patients across the country.
JOURNALIST: Do you think it’s reasonable for people to opt-out of My Health database due to privacy concerns?
KING: I think absolutely it is reasonable if people want to opt out of the My Health Record that they should be able to do so. We’re a bit disappointed that the Government hasn’t really publicised the process for people to opt-out, or facilitated a way – there’s many people who don’t know how to use a computer, many older people who may not necessarily use computers in the way that you and I do, and I think it’s important that people are actually facilitated if they do want to opt out. Now the My Health Record is something we’ve supported – we’ve supported the Government in having an opt-out approach but we think there is actually a lot more that needs to be done to actually assist clinicians and people who are actually going to use this system to put data on it. But certainly the Government’s been pretty poor I think in not really publicising the capacity for people to opt-out.
JOURNALIST: I just have some question for Susan Lamb if I could. Susan, you sat in Federal Parliament for months saying you couldn’t renounce your citizenship. So why did it only take days to do so after you resigned?
LAMB: So The process that I undertook to renounce my citizenship, I undertook back in 2016. I took every reasonable step that I could, there is 40 pages of documents for anybody to have a look. Since resigning last week, again, I applied to the UK home office, provided them with all of my material again and they went through and processed that.
JOURNALIST: Could the ALP have asked UK authorities to reconsider your case while you were sitting in parliament and drawing a salary?
LAMB: I think the important part is when I resigned, I produced – I went through and provided more pieces of information. I was able to provide obviously my birth certificate and other pieces of information. As a result, they’ve processed the renouncement.
JOURNALIST: That was a result of you providing more information, is that what you’re saying?
LAMB: Actually, the UK home office has a different form that required a few little bits of different information on that form and I provided that.
JOURNALIST: Do you think this could have been handled better and you could have renounced earlier?
LAMB: I think I’m disappointed that my electorate now is going to an election – a by-election. I’m disappointed that’s happened. But we are here now and this is an opportunity for the people of Longman to let Malcolm Turnbull know exactly what we think of taking money out of places like the Caboolture Hospital and giving it to the banks.
JOURNALIST: Why haven’t you updated the citizenship registry with the latest information from UK authorities?
LAMB: I am no longer a member of Parliament so I am no longer required to do that. Once re-elected, of course I will take care of that.
JOURNALIST: Any regrets that you stood as a politician back in 2016, won the seat of Longman, given the intrusion into your family and private life?
LAMB: The only regret I have is I’m not done yet. That’s my only regret, we have work to do. We have work to do to protect our hospitals and our schools. We have work to do to protect jobs and that’s what I’m going to continue to do.
JOURNALIST: There was talk of a sympathy vote earlier this week, like in Bennelong, John Alexander and in New England with Barnaby Joyce. What are you hearing? Are people supportive of you coming back and recontesting?
LAMB: Since I have been back in the electorate from Wednesday night, I have been out talking to people, in their homes, on the phones, on the street. What people are telling me they are incredibly supportive of me. They are incredibly supportive of my fight to make sure that their schools and hospitals are resourced.
JOURNALIST: There was a report in the media during the week that (inaudible) announced their candidates for preselection will happen next Tuesday. There was concerns from LNP Insiders that it was difficult to find good quality candidates. There were issues there. They were checking the citizenship of one candidate who was born in PNG. Your thoughts on that?
LAMB: I won’t be distracted by the LNP and their processes in choosing a candidate. My progress and my focus is talking to people that live in the electorate. I’m not interested in their processes and their preselection.
JOURNALIST: There was talk that that delay was the reason why the by-election date hasn’t been announced yet. What do you think of that?
LAMB: Whether the by-election is 23rd June or 7 July. We will be ready to go.
JOURNALIST: Were you able to get your parents’ marriage certificate? Was that the original sticking point?
LAMB: That was one of the documents that was requested. I provided all of the documents that I was legally able to hold and that document, still I have not produced.
JOURNALIST: It is not required?
LAMB: So the citizenship situation is now resolved and that document was not required.
JOURNALIST: What do you make of going to a by-election sometime very soon. In a matter of months, a year or so you could be doing this again?
LAMB: Absolutely. This job isn’t easy. This takes a lot of stamina, resilience. We have a community that needs a fighter and that is who I am. Whether we go again in six months or 12 months, I’m ready to go again.
JOURNALIST: 0.8% of a margin at the last election. It has gone the LNP and Labor over a number of years. Are you confident you can hang on if One Nation puts you last?
LAMB: I’m confident that the people of Longman need a Government to deliver health care, education and good strong jobs and not give a hand-out to banks. That’s what I’m confident of and I think when people go to the ballot box, that is what they will vote on, a Government that will provide for them and their families.
JOURNALIST: Were you relieved that Wyatt Roy didn’t have another tilt at the seat?
LAMB: I don’t mind who the candidates are. I know exactly what I stand for. I know I will fight for families and people in my community.