Ladies and Gentlemen,
As Australians age they will place increasing demands on the health services. There will also be a greater demand for nursing home and hostel accommodation. This situation will become more acute in the next ten to twenty years when the baby boomers reach the age when they will fall into the category of heavy users of health resources. The baby boomers will find that the health and welfare support enjoyed by the present retirees will not be available to them unless there is a shift to private health cover. It is going to be very difficult if not impossible to convince healthy young people to subsidise the health costs of the aged. As the first stage in addressing the cost of the increasing demand on our health system, we will retain the Medicare levy, but taxpayers with full private health cover will be exempt from paying the levy. In addition, all Australians will be given further incentive to obtain private health cover by allowing contributions to be fully tax deductible.
Dental health does not receive adequate attention. In particular School Dental Health Clinics are poorly utilised and the facilities lie wasted. The School Dental Health Scheme for primary school children will be upgraded to provide full staffing and facilities to enable the establishment of a comprehensive preventative program enabling primary school students to receive examinations and treatment on at least a yearly basis at no cost. The Commonwealth Dental Health Scheme and pensioner denture scheme will be available to all those disadvantaged through low income, including all welfare, unemployment benefit and aged pension recipients.
A scheme similar to the Remote Areas Dental Scheme (R.A.D.S) in NSW for areas not serviced by a public clinic will be funded through tied grants. This will enable country towns to be provided with good dental services through the existing private practitioners in the towns. The Veterans Affairs Dental Scheme will be retained and upgraded.
Home and community care is another neglected area. $70 Million is being or has been cut from Home and Community Care programs in the last three years. Funds will be reinstated for Community Care programs such as Meals on Wheels, Home Maintenance Programs, community transport and home help services, which are essential to elderly and disabled people. The concept of aging in place is supported strongly. This will allow elderly and disabled people to continue to live in their own homes with some support rather than being placed in nursing home care where there is not nearly the same quality of life.
One Nation supports the concept of the government continuing to subsidise the cost of aged care and for persons being required to contribute to the cost of their residential care; provided that no person who is assessed as in need of residential care, is denied access to hostel or nursing home care on the grounds of inability to meet a portion of the cost appropriate to their means and ability to pay. A proportion of residential care places subsidised by government funding will be reserved for people receiving full or partial social services and veterans affairs benefits. Government policy has seen a shift to funds being directed to paying for services to be supplied in residential environments for mentally and physically disadvantaged people. One Nation recognises many disabled people benefit from living in the community, but there are others who need centre based care. The policy of shifting the emphasis away from centre based care of the mentally and physically disadvantaged will be reassessed.
One Nation is particularly conscious of the difficulties facing rural Australians. While there is an oversupply of GPs and specialists of both medical and dental practitioners in the capital cities the rural areas continue to be starved of adequate care. To rectify this One Nation will introduce a range of measures, including a review of the Rural Incentives Programme to make rural practice more attractive and encouragement for country students to undertake studies in medical and dental faculties with the expectation that graduates from the country will take up country practice.
Pauline Hanson recently drew attention to the lack of adequate screening of migrants which allowed TB and hepatitis B sufferers to be admitted to our country as a result of inadequate screening, particularly abroad. One Nation will act to have tighter screening.
Australians are increasingly turning to alternative medicine we all have the right of free choice in the selection of therapeutic treatments. Just as chiropractic, acupuncture and hypnosis have now been accepted as mainstream treatments, we will provide for other alternative treatments to be accredited after appropriate training and qualification standards have been established and met and the effectiveness of the treatment has been proven.
One Nation policy on aboriginal issues is well known. We believe all Australians must be treated equally. Health services should be no different - medical, dental and surgical services should be made available on the basis of need and not on the basis of race. $131.3 million has been allocated to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Services together with $17.5 million for substance abuse services. Removal of this dual administration of health services will generate significant savings.
The question of responsibility for delivery of health services needs review. One Nation supports the concept of the delivery of health services on a national regional basis appropriate to the particular needs of each national health region. State governments should have the responsibility for the provision of all health services within the regions, including health services for the aged. Until now aged care was administered by the Commonwealth Department of Health and Family Services (DHFS) under the National Health Act. We believe that with appropriate funding, care of the aged should be a state responsibility. This will enable aged care services to be fully integrated with state hospital and community care services.
One Nation supports a policy of a non-political distribution of the available funds according to demographic need based on the health index of each state and territory and approved health programs. Rural and regional Australia will be afforded special treatment in recognition of the impact of geographical isolation.
One Nation supports the return of control of public hospitals to hospital boards to effectively restore control to local communities who can then take pride and an interest in "their" hospital.
In summary, future generations of Australians will be better educated and much more aware of the latest advances in medicine and will be more demanding and critical than their parents were. It is going to be very difficult if not impossible to convince healthy young people to subsidise the health costs of the aged. One Nation believes Australians must be confronted with the harsh realities of our failing health system and of the hard decisions which government must make if we are to all enjoy an adequate standard of health service in the future. One Nation will continue to fight for the changes needed for our health system to meet the demands of present and future generations.
Statement by Ray Danton, One Nation Health spokesman