JERILDERIE HEALTH SERVICES
Mr SMALL (Murray) [5.54 p.m.]: The residents of the electorate of Murray are concerned about two major issues: health services and water. In relation to health I again raise the lack of health services at the Jerilderie District Hospital. I have spoken on this issue in this House on several occasions. The Jerilderie people have even come to Sydney and spoken to the Minister for Health, and I have invited the Minister to visit the people of Jerilderie. Unfortunately, the Greater Murray Area Health Service has done nothing to resurrect the Jerilderie District Hospital. The hospital is open. It is a beautiful building, but at the moment it has only one patient; in the past it has had two patients.
The residents of Jerilderie, the Federal member for Farrer, Mr Fischer, and I are all fighting on behalf of those people who reside in Jerilderie and the surrounding district for their right to a duty of care. Jerilderie lost its doctor over 2½ years ago, but the town was able to secure the services of Dr John and his wife. He is an excellent doctor and he and his wife make an excellent team; they do a tremendous job. Jerilderie Shire Council, the community, Mr Fischer and I have all worked cohesively to secure a multipurpose service for Jerilderie. That is what the community wants. With an MPS the hospital, an ambulance service and a day care service would all be in the building. Little money would have to be spent. All that is required is the agreement of the Greater Murray Area Health Service, through the Minister for Health, to provide an MPS. The council is prepared to offer any assistance that is necessary, including financial assistance, and the community is totally behind the proposal.
With the possible exception of the intractable waste issue in 1988-89, this is the most important health issue I have raised on behalf of my electorate. The biggest problem is that Dr John has been denied full visiting rights to the hospital. He can visit under emergency circumstances for a maximum of four hours. Residents of Jerilderie who need health care have to go to Finley, Albury or elsewhere to obtain the necessary services. I cannot understand why they are being denied an MPS, particularly as the Federal Government, through Mr Fischer, has identified that $41 million is to be spent on helping to establish multipurpose services. The Federal Government has agreed to support an MPS in partnership with the New South Wales Government. Recurrent aged-care
funding has received approval from the Federal Government. It was my understanding that the Greater Murray Area Health Service also supported the MPS for Jerilderie.
However, when I saw this year’s budget document I found that there was nothing in it for Jerilderie. I am sceptical about the whole situation. I call on the State Government and the Minister for Health to approve the MPS. I am pleased to have received an acknowledgment that when the Opposition attains government it will provide an MPS. In fairness to the people of Jerilderie, I ask the Minister for Health to provide them with the necessary health services. They have paid their taxes and have helped to fund the building of Jerilderie District Hospital. The Minister only has to give his approval to secure the future of the hospital as an MPS and to secure the funding to which the Federal Government has already agreed. I ask the Minister for Health to do what we all are asking, that is, to approve an MPS at Jerilderie.