Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2012 Week 5 Hansard (2 May) . . Page.. 1887..
On 19 March this year, my federal Liberal colleague the shadow minister for health, the Hon Peter Dutton, introduced a bill into the House of Representatives to require the Minister for Health to halt demands for the repayment under the chronic disease dental scheme for a technical breach of the law. Dentists are currently facing demands from the Gillard government to repay Medicare benefits for a service they have already provided. The repayment would mean fewer dental services for needy patients and worse health outcomes. That is the key difference.
The Liberal Party has taken, and continues to take, real action to address dental health issues. The ACT Greens, despite being in alliance with the government, offer paltry and ill-timed requests. If Ms Bresnan was serious about increased investment for dental health, she would have held the ACT government to account on their coalition agreement and demanded that funding be increased in the ACT budget. But Ms Bresnan has chosen what is only, and can only be viewed as, given what it is calling for and the timing, a symbolic motion, with no effect to express this intent.
The Canberra Liberals believe that there needs to be additional support for dental and oral health. We recognise the need in the community, and we will be supporting the motion today, assuming that it is amended. I have circulated an amendment which limits the scope of what Ms Bresnan is calling for, in line with what I have just said. It would maintain much of what Ms Bresnan has put in there, including everything she has noted but replacing what she calls for.
Because I have simply incorporated the elements of writing to the federal Minister for Health and other political parties' spokespeople, it might be helpful if Ms Bresnan outlines whom she considers that to be in the federal parliament, given that there are a range of independents and small parties, so that the Speaker has some guidance on whom he is actually writing to. I now move:
Omit all words after paragraph (2), substitute:
"(a) Speaker to write to the Federal Minister for Health, and other political party spokespeople for health, and advise them that:
(i) the ACT Legislative Assembly is concerned about the level of federal funding for dental services; and
(ii) the ACT Legislative Assembly supports Medicare-funded dentistry as an aspiration; and
(b) Minister for Health to provide to the Assembly the reasons why, including possible funding issues, that the mean waiting time for adults on the ACT dental services waiting list is currently 12 months.".
MS BRESNAN (Brindabella) (6.28): I will close the debate and speak to the amendment, if that is acceptable. I will go to a couple of points that Dr Bourke made about the waiting times. I think he made the point about the waiting times being better here in the ACT. As I pointed out in my initial speech, because every state and territory does provide quite different levels of public dental services and charges, it is