PUBLIC DENTAL HEALTH SERVICES
The Hon. MICHAEL VEITCH
[11.58 p.m.]: I move:
(a) commends the Government for this year's budget funding increase of $8 million for oral health,
(b) supports the use of $4 million of this funding to reduce waiting lists for children and $4 million to increase the number of dental therapists and hygienists and expand Rural Oral Health Centres, and
(c) condemns the Howard Government for abolishing the Commonwealth Dental Health Program in 1996, which saw public dental waiting times increase dramatically in all States.
Oral health is a very significant part of our overall health care system. Oral health is vitally important to our overall health and wellbeing, yet it is often neglected, no more so than by the former Howard Coalition Federal Government. Being able to go to a dentist regularly reduces the chances of decay or disease, which is pretty basic. If the people of New South Wales are able to visit a dentist early and often, the risk of poor oral health is reduced. So why are the people of New South Wales not able to see their dentists more regularly? The sound of the drill does keep some people away, but by and large people are avoiding going to the dentist because they cannot afford it. People are being denied appropriate health care because John Howard and the Coalition saw fit to abolish the Commonwealth dental health program in 1996, denying Australians over $1 billion in dental health care since that time. The Federal Government has the power to fund dental health care under section 51 of the Constitution, as has been explained to this House before by the Hon. John Hatzistergos.
Pursuant to sessional orders business interrupted and set down as an order of the day for a later hour.