THE HON CATHERINE KING MP
SHADOW MINISTER FOR HEALTH AND MEDICARE
MEMBER FOR BALLARAT
MALCOLM TURNBULL’S GRUBBY MRI DEAL WITH ONE NATION
Ten days after Labor announced we would give the people of Kalgoorlie-Boulder affordable access to live-saving medical scans, Malcolm Turnbull has adopted our policy – but only as part of a grubby deal with One Nation.
We announced on June 12 that a Shorten Labor Government would grant Kalgoorlie Health Campus a Medicare-subsidised MRI licence – the first of 20 we will deliver nationwide if we win the next election.
Today we get the news that Turnbull has followed our lead and issued an MRI licence for Kalgoorlie – a development we obviously welcome.
But instead of making the announcement himself, Turnbull left it to One Nation to deliver the news on social media. That’s because Turnbull is only delivering this licence because One Nation supported his income tax cuts for bankers and millionaires.
Turnbull was effectively saying to the people of Kalgoorlie: I’ll only give you access to life-saving medical scans if One Nation supports my unfair agenda.
What kind of leader would hold a whole community to ransom in this way?
For Turnbull, health funding is just a bargaining chip, something to be withheld unless he gets his way.
This is the first MRI licence the Liberals have granted in two years and only the fifth since they took power in 2013.
Laborby contrast granted 238 licences when we were last in government, with hundreds of communities benefiting from the early detection and diagnosis of disease today because of our investment.
MRI scans are used to detect and diagnose conditions that affect soft tissue – includingtumours and cancer – and are critical in the early detection of many diseases.
But they only attract a rebate if they are performed on a machine with alicence, meaning many Australians are forced to travel long distances to access an eligible machine.
Currently, the people of Kalgoorlie must travel 600kms to Perth to access the nearest Medicare-subsidised machine. That means people are forced to pay high out-of-pocket costs, take time off work and sometimes leave their family and friends behind just to get a diagnosis.
Even worse, some people are choosing to forego the scans altogether because they simply cannot afford the trip, potentially putting their lives at risk.
Kalgoorlie – one of the most isolated cities in the world – was identified as an area of acute shortage in a bipartisan Senate inquiry into MRIlicences earlier this year.
FRIDAY, 22 JUNE 2018