DOORSTOP: 8/11/21

November 08, 2021


SUBJECTS: Morayfield Health Hub; COVID vaccine boosters; COVID vaccines for Children.
REBECCA FANNING, LABOR CANDIDATE FOR LONGMAN: I'm Rebecca Fanning, Labor’s candidate for the Federal electorate of Longman. I'm so pleased that Labor’s Shadow Minister for Health and Ageing, Mark Butler, has been able to join me here in Morayfield today.

We've just received a tour of the Morayfield Health Hub from the Hub’s Director Dr Evan Jones. The Hub provides a range of primary health care services that are funded through the Medicare system. We've just been out to see first-hand the great health services that this facility provides to our local community, but we've also been able to talk about some of the big health issues facing our region, and one of those issues is the critical shortage of GPs in this area. I've been hearing from locals about them having to wait weeks to get in to see their GP or having to travel far distances to try to find another bulk billing doctor. I've heard of cases where people have ended up in hospital because they've been waiting so long to see the GP for an appointment.

And this situation is now only going to be made worse because the Morayfield Health Hub has had to close its urgent care centre due to woefully inadequate Medicare funding from the Morrison Government. Now, the urgent care centre has played a really important role in our community, providing urgent care for non-life-threatening conditions like burns and broken bones. But it recently had to close its doors because Scott Morrison won't provide enough Medicare funding, and that means locals will now instead have to go to the Caboolture Hospital Emergency Department and the Redcliffe Hospital Emergency Department for treatment.

That's just going to put even more pressure on these hospitals, which have already seen a huge increase in the demand for their services. Now, our community deserves better. Our community needs a Federal Government that is going to properly fund Medicare and local health services and only an Albanese Labor Government is going to do that.

I’ll now pass over to Mark Butler.

MARK BUTLER, SHADOW MINISTER FOR HEALTH AND AGEING: Thank you so much Rebecca. It's fantastic to be here in Morayfield to work with the candidate for the Labor Party here in Longman, who has such a track record in health, particularly working for her state during this pandemic. I also want to thank Dr Evan Jones for hosting us today and showing us again around the Morayfield Health Hub, I’ve been here on a number of occasions now. It truly is one of the great innovation centres of primary health care in Australia. It's a great pleasure to see it's so busy delivering such wonderful services to this part of North Brisbane.

It's got a very busy vaccine clinic just around the corner. It's already delivered more than 17,000 vaccinations to the people of this region, and it's got so many other services it's able to deliver as well. I'm glad Rebecca drew attention to the urgent care centre, which is really a wonderful innovation that Dr Jones has picked up from overseas that has the potential to deliver health care that people need where they need it and when they need it, which after all should be the overriding objective of a health system, but also importantly will take pressure off the emergency department at the local Caboolture Hospital which like so many hospitals around the country is dealing with unprecedented demand right now, which is likely only to get worse as COVID starts to enter Queensland over coming months.

So thank you to Dr Jones for the generosity in hosting us today and for your advice about ways in which we could with improving Australian health care system.

Can I say more broadly that I welcome today the beginning of the general booster programme. The third shot, the booster shot for COVID vaccines. This is something that I've been calling for for some time now, and so many countries around the world have put in place arrangements to booster shots weeks or even a couple of months ago.

I'm particularly concerned that frontline health workers started to receive their COVID vaccines eight and a half months ago now. There must be an urgent plan from Scott Morrison outlined very quickly as to how the frontline health care workforce, who are after all often exposed to COVID, or at least suspected COVID in the course of their work, how those workers, tens of thousands of nurses, doctors, other frontline workers who are putting their lives on the line every day to care for the rest of the Australian population, how they are going to receive booster shots as soon as possible, particularly given lockdowns and other restrictions now are in the process of being lifted in Victoria, New South Wales, and the ACT, and over coming weeks as well border restrictions will start to be lifted in the currently COVID-free jurisdictions.

So where is the plan, Mr Morrison, to make sure that Australia’s hardworking frontline health care workers are protected by this booster programme? Scott Morrison can simply not bungle the booster programme in the same way he bungled the broader vaccine rollout earlier this year.

The last thing I want to say is that I think Australian parents are getting sick of the mixed messages from the Federal Government about the vaccine programmes for their children. We've received very different messages only over the last twenty-four hours as to whether or not Australia children under the age twelve will or will not be vaccinated before the end of this year. Again, given that lockdowns are being lifted and border restrictions will be lifted as well over coming weeks, Australian parents deserve a clear answer from Scott Morrison - when will my child aged under twelve be able to be vaccinated and protected from COVID?