ILLAWARRA HEALTH SERVICES
Mr RUMBLE: My question without notice is directed to the Deputy Premier, Minister for Health, and Minister for Aboriginal Affairs. What action is the Government taking in response to representations over health services in the Illawarra?
Dr REFSHAUGE: I am delighted to have a question from the honourable member for Illawarra about the expanding services in the Illawarra. I am sure all members have seen these headlines "We're getting the best" -
Mr Hartcher: On a point of order. Mr Speaker, I draw attention to previous rulings relating to members waving newspapers about in the House and to the use of props in debate. Indeed, you have ejected members from the Chamber who engaged in such activity. I ask you to call the Minister for Health to order for his gross defiance of your rulings.
Mr Knight: On the point of order. The Minister for Health was answering a question about health services in the Illawarra. What he sought to do was to inform the House what was on the front page of the Illawarra Mercury. Because members Opposition were yelling so much and because they were making it extremely difficult for the Minister for Health to be heard, he felt the need to show them what was on the paper because they would not let him quote doctors who say that they are getting the best.
Mr SPEAKER: Order! In the past it has been acceptable for members to quote from newspaper articles, so long as they verified the documents, if they were required to do so. At this stage there has been no request for the article to be verified. I uphold that part of the point of order relating to the waving around of the newspaper article.
Dr REFSHAUGE: The excitement of the improvements in the Illawarra unfortunately led to an inappropriate transgression on my part. The Illawarra Mercury is jubilant about these changes. The banner headline is "Illawarra gets a shot in the arm". The doctors in the Illawarra said, "We're getting the best." And they are. Not only do they have the best local representation, they are also getting a teaching hospital for Wollongong.
Mr Tink: Manly gets a shot in the head.
Dr REFSHAUGE: The honourable member for Eastwood probably has forgotten that recently we passed a bill about firearms control. His "shot in the head" interjection was offensive; even his own supporters would not like that one. There is no doubt that the Illawarra is a great winner from these changes. The Liberal Party promised a lot but delivered nothing. An excavation was started for the new clinical services block in Wollongong. The hatchet men of the coalition stopped the project and for seven years there was a massive hole in the ground in the middle of Wollongong. But this
Government, the Carr Labor Government, is delivering services to the Illawarra. We are building the hospitals. I know that members opposite -
Mr SPEAKER: Order! The Minister will resume his seat until the House comes to order. The member for Manly will refrain from interjecting. I remind him that he will have an opportunity to expand on his philosophies by speaking on the motion to be debated at the end of question time.
Dr REFSHAUGE: Not only did they make promises; they dug a massive hole in the middle of Wollongong where a teaching hospital should have been. They ignored the people of the area and embarked on a massive closure of hospitals. They got away with one - Kiama hospital. Back in 1987 the Leader of the Opposition, as health Minister in the coalition Government, promised the people of Kiama, "We will never close your hospital." The honourable member for Kiama remembers that well. We have all the clippings. But then the Leader of the Opposition got his axe out, went down to Illawarra and chopped that out. He closed down Kiama hospital. He also made some other silly decisions. He said he would put a linear accelerator at Bulli hospital, which is on a fault line - radiotherapy beams on a fault line! That is one promise that we are delighted he did not keep. Then his successor - I am not sure about the appearance of the word "success" in that term - the present Deputy Leader of the Liberal Party embarked on the partial closure of hospitals. He targeted Bulli, where the maternity unit was closed down. The redevelopment was stopped, and then he put the closure of Coledale hospital on the agenda as well. The members of the Illawarra rose up in anger.
Mr SPEAKER: Order! I call the Minister for Local Government to order.
Dr REFSHAUGE: Closure of Kiama hospital was a devastating blow to the people of Kiama. This Labor Government is rebuilding Kiama hospital. The honourable member for Kiama protested non-stop about the closure. He is delighted about the changes we have been making. We have already started to deal with the devastating problem the coalition created by not providing a clinical services block in Wollongong. As well as providing a full teaching hospital, the Government is providing a linear accelerator for the treatment of cancer patients in the Illawarra.
Mr Hartcher: What about the one you promised Gosford?
Dr REFSHAUGE: The honourable member for Gosford does not care about patients in the Illawarra. Cancer patients will not have to travel to Sydney for treatment, although some of them will be able to have treatment there. A much more comprehensive service will be provided. The honourable member for Keira this week opened a new dialysis unit. The conditions for which these facilities offer treatment are chronic illnesses that need health care facilities nearby. As highlighted by Francis Sullivan today in the Sydney Morning Herald in an excellent article, the World Health Organisation has recommended that patients, particularly those with chronic conditions, should have services near where they live. That is what we are doing with this change. The people who live in the Illawarra will have the teaching hospital and the clinical services block that the coalition failed to provide. I think the coalition actually wanted to make the site a swimming pool. It even got that wrong. We are making sure that dialysis services are provided, and we are rebuilding Kiama hospital, which was closed. We are making sure that people in the Illawarra at least get their fair share of health services. We are making sure that people in the Hunter, the Illawarra, the central coast and Liverpool -
Mr SPEAKER: Order! I call the honourable member for Baulkham Hills to order.
Dr REFSHAUGE: - and those in all areas of New South Wales are at least getting their fair share. People are getting what they need. They pay their taxes and they deserve the benefits that come from their taxes.
Questions without notice concluded.