NSW Labor re-commits to $3.5 million upgrade to Crookwell District Hospital

A Daley Labor Government will deliver the $3.5 million upgrade for Crookwell District Hospital.

NSW Labor Leader Michael Daley was joined by Shadow Health Minister Walt Secord and Country Labor candidate Ursula Stephens to re-commit to the project.

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NSW Labor’s commitment for Crookwell District Hospital will cover:

  • Improvements to emergency department;
  • Additional hospital equipment; and
  • An additional emergency department bed.

Crookwell District Hospital’s emergency department had 5,240 presentations in 2017-18 – a 14 per cent increase from the year 2013-14.

Country Labor candidate for Goulburn Ursula Stephens said that the community had spoken and the need for the hospital upgrade was “plain to see”.

“After eight years of neglect, the Crookwell District Hospital will finally get its well-deserved,” she said.

Mr Daley praised Ms Stephens for her strong advocacy on this important issue – saying this project has only happened due to her strong local advocacy and the community-based campaign.

Ms Stephens said: “Sadly, the Liberals and Nationals have the wrong priorities. They prefer to splurge $2.2 Billion on Sydney stadiums – whereas Labor wants to invest in our health and hospital system – especially regional facilities like Crookwell Hospital.”

“The Crookwell Hospital staff do a wonderful job, in difficult circumstances. There are genuine WHS issues that must be addressed and this upgrade will allow the Hospital to work with Health Infrastructure to overcome those genuine safety concerns for patients, staff and visitors”, she said.

Key statistics on Crookwell District Hospital

  • 15 per cent of urgent patients were not treated within the clinically recommended time period of 30 minutes;
  • 17 per cent of emergency patients weren’t treated within the clinically recommended time period of 10 minutes; and
  • 10 per cent of patients admitted at the emergency department waited at least three hours and 18 minutes before they were able to leave the hospital.

(Crookwell District Hospital is an 18 bed acute care facility providing general medical services. The hospital has an emergency department operating 24 hours a day seven days per week. It is within the Southern NSW Local Health District – and it is more than 112 years old.)

Labor backs drought-stricken farmers over Sydney stadiums

Shadow Minister for Primary Industry and Rural Affairs, Mick Veitch, has slammed the Nationals for supporting the $2.2 billion knock down and rebuild of Sydney stadiums while thousands of farmers continue to struggle through drought.

Mr Veitch said that he had taken a bi-partisan approach to drought assistance policy in NSW, but the stadiums policy needed to be called out for wasting precious taxpayer money.

“Michael Daley and Labor have taken a bipartisan to direct drought assistance. We won’t politicise it.

“But we won’t back down on stadiums. Farmers and rural communities are telling us this $2.2 billion Sydney stadiums splurge is the wrong priority. They have every right to feel angry with the Nationals.”

Daley Labor’s top 10 positive policies on drought are:

  1. Providing an additional $1 billion for a Safe Water Safe Future fund to improve water security and quality in regional communities
  2. Topping up the Farm Innovation Fund with another $350 million and maintaining current funding levels of direct drought assistance
  3. Waiving Local Land Services’ charges for all farmers
  4. Waiving rents for 1,700 western lands leaseholders
  5. Funding a new drought mental health package which includes training and employing 50 mental health outreach workers dedicated to supporting drought-affected communities, an extra $20 million to partner with not for profit mental health groups in regional areas to complement existing services and an extra $3 million for improved technology for rural tele-health initiatives
  6. Spending an additional $50 million on weeds and pests
  7. Appointing a Dairy and Fresh Food Advocate to stop price-gouging of farmers and primary producers
  8. Doubling funding for Landcare to $32.5 million
  9. Providing an additional $11.25 million for frontline biosecurity efforts
  10. Extending the wild dog fence

Mick Veitch said: “These are just some of the many commitments Labor is making in the regions.

“Upgraded hospitals and new schools also make up Labor’s list of priorities across NSW because we will put schools and hospitals before Sydney stadiums.”

Labor to provide $1.8 million boost in support for volunteer wildlife carers

A Daley Labor Government will significantly increase government support for passionate volunteer wildlife carers who care for thousands of sick, injured or orphaned native animals every year.

Deputy Labor Leader and Shadow Environment Minister, Penny Sharpe, announced that Labor will provide dedicated annual funding to wildlife carers, replacing an ad-hoc and uncertain system that provides little assistance for the important work carried out by wildlife carers every day.

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Labor will provide $10,000 to each licensed organisation, including each branch of WIRES, and $1,000 to each individual currently directly licensed to rehabilitate native animals (not registered with an organisation). This will boost annual government contributions from $32,500 to $600,000.

“Volunteer wildlife carers are truly unsung, selfless heroes in communities all around the state, who do the challenging and sometimes heartbreaking work of caring for sick or injured native animals, often in very difficult circumstances,” Ms Sharpe said.

“This crucial funding will assist organisations and volunteers who care for sick, injured or orphaned native animals to pay for critical items needed in the care of these animals, such as food, medication and treatment, transport costs, enclosures and bedding, rescue and safety equipment, and clothing.”

A recent government survey found that wildlife carers provide around $27 million in value of volunteer contributions each year (based on 17 per cent of the sector). The full value is likely to be well over $100 million.

More than one million native animals have been rescued by volunteers since the year 2000, with around 104,000 animals rescued each year over the last four years, across 800 species. Overall, the sector receives about 180,000 calls a year, with most providers offering a 24-hour, seven days a week service.

The survey found that wildlife carer volunteers gave an average of nearly seven times as much time in volunteering as an average volunteer in Australia, while personal expenditure by surveyed volunteers averaged at $3,123 per person with a median of $500 each year.

However, wildlife care organisations and licensed individuals currently have no guaranteed funding from the NSW Government, and in 2017-18 there were just 13 ad-hoc grants handed out for a total of $32,500. Providers rely almost entirely on donations and the goodwill of volunteer wildlife carers.

“I think most people would be shocked that wildlife carers receive almost no support from government when we rely so heavily on being able to reach out to their services 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

“Labor is deeply committed to the care and protection of native species in NSW, and our wildlife carers deserve our support. The next time you meet a volunteer wildlife carer, please give them your thanks.”

While the Government recently produced a vague draft strategy for the sector using already-announced funding from the NSW Koala Strategy and funding for the Foundation for National Parks and Wildlife – no additional funds were provided directly to the work of wildlife carers on the ground.

BETTER HEALTH CARE FOR WESTERN AUSTRALIANS UNDER LABOR

Western Australia will benefit from better health and hospital services with a Shorten Labor Government investing an additional $110 million in vital new projects across the state.

Mark McGowan and his team are doing a great job fighting for better health care – but Western Australia deserves their fair share from the Federal Government. A Shorten Labor Government will partner with the McGowan Government to deliver the projects the state needs for better health.

Labor’s investment blitz will overhaul outdated regional hospitals, upgrade surgery facilities, provide new palliative care beds, and boost emergency capacity and dental services.

Labor’s new commitments will improve care for patients from central Perth to regional towns like Albany and further locations like Halls Creek.

Labor is today committing to fund seven new projects. We will:

  • Build a clinical command centre at Royal Perth Hospital to help provide care to patients across Western Australia ($15m)
  • Establish an all-new health clinic in Yanchep, where health services are sorely lacking ($18.2m)
  • Replace the dilapidated and asbestos-riddled Laverton Hospital with a new contemporary facility
    ($12.8m), joining a McGowan Government commitment of $4 million to the project
  • Upgrade Collie Hospital’s surgery facilities so that locals can get world-class care close to home ($12.2m)
  • Provide 25 new palliative care beds at Osborne Park Hospital to ensure more people get the best possible care at the end of their lives ($25m)
  • Double the capacity of Albany Hospital’s dental clinic ($5m)
  • Provide dialysis facilities for Halls Creek in the Kimberley ($700,000)

This new funding package comes on top of commitments Labor has already made to build an Urgent Care Centre in Fremantle ($5m); redevelop the Bentley Health Service ($10.9m); and upgrade Kalamunda District Community Hospital’s palliative care facilities ($7.6m).

That brings Federal Labor’s capital commitment to the state’s hospitals to an additional $112.4 million, with more to be announced.

This funding is in addition to Labor’s existing investment in expanding the Joondalup health campus, including the construction of a 75 bed mental health facility, as well as the rollout of new Medicare-funded MRI licences across the state.

Labor will also restore core funding to every public hospital, reversing Scott Morrison’s cuts.

We can afford these investments because we’ve made tough decisions to make multinationals pay their fair share and close unfair tax loopholes.

Scott Morrison and the Liberals cannot be trusted with health – as Treasurer Scott Morrison cut funding from health while trying to give a $80 billion tax handout to big business, including $17 billion to the big banks.

He cut $77 million from Western Australia’s hospitals under the current 2017 to 2020 funding agreement. And now he’s trying to lock in even bigger cuts for the next five years.

Labor is more than reversing the Liberal cuts with our $2.8 billion Better Hospitals Fund, which we will use to fund these vital projects.

Only Labor can be trusted to fix Western Australia’s hospitals.

LABOR’S PLAN TO BUILD BETTER HOSPITALS

A Shorten Labor Government will invest $1 billion on vital upgrades to Australia’s public hospitals – building new wards with more beds, upgrading emergency departments and theatres, and establishing new palliative care and mental health facilities.

Our doctors, nurses and hospital staff do an amazing job, but we know there are hospital facilities across the country that are aging and in dire need of a revamp to ensure patients get the best care possible.

At a time when everything is going up except people’s wages, soaring health care costs under the Liberals are putting more strain on the family budget – and more strain on our public hospitals. Out-of-pocket GP costs have increased by 25%, specialist costs by almost 40% and private health insurance premiums by 30%.

1.3 million Australians skip getting basic health care because of cost – and this puts extra pressure on our public hospitals.

That’s why Labor will invest an additional $1 billion upgrading hospitals across the country, with every state and territory to benefit from these targeted investments that will ensure patients can access modern and safe health services, and that doctors and nurses have the tools they need to deliver the best possible care.

We are already partnering with state and territory governments to identify projects that will make a tangible difference to the lives of Australians – whether they’re giving birth, undergoing essential surgery, waiting for emergency treatment or reaching the end of their lives.

Labor’s $1 billion investment will be flexible to meet the needs of individual hospitals – in some cases, this will mean rebuilding and expanding existing facilities so they can cater for more patients, in other cases it will mean the construction of brand new units to meet the health needs of a community.

From downtown Sydney to regional WA, from rural Tasmania to Far North Queensland, from inner Melbourne to regional South Australia and the Northern Territory: Labor will ensure more Australians can access essential health services close to home so they don’t need to travel to the next town or city.

This investment blitz is a key part of Labor’s Fair Go Action Plan to improve our public hospitals and strengthen Medicare.

We can afford to spend more on health care because we’ve made the tough decisions to make multinationals pay their fair share and close unfair tax loopholes.

This $1 billion worth of capital investments will come on top of our commitment to restore the core public hospital funding cut by the Liberals.

A Shorten Labor Government will always invest more on health and hospital services than the Liberals.

The Liberals have an appalling record on health funding, inflicting cut after cut after cut.

That’s why Australians today are paying more than ever to see the doctor, and why people are languishing longer than ever in emergency departments and on elective surgery waiting lists.

As Treasurer, Scott Morrison cut from health and hospitals in every Budget he delivered.

He cut $715 million from hospitals under the current 2017 to 2020 funding agreement with the states. And now he’s trying to lock in even bigger cuts for the next five years. Only Labor is promising a better deal.

Since becoming Prime Minister, Morrison’s sought to cut even more from hospitals and has refused to lift the six-year Medicare rebate freeze.

Labor knows there’s nothing more important than your health – that’s why we will always fight for better health care and why only Labor can be trusted to fix Australia’s hospitals.

TOUGHER, FAIRER, FASTER – LABOR’S RESPONSE TO THE BANKING ROYAL COMMISSION

A Shorten Labor Government will act faster and go further in standing up for victims of banking misconduct.

Labor fought for the Banking Royal Commission – unlike Scott Morrison and the Liberals who voted against the Royal Commission 26 times, called it a “populist whinge” and refused to give parliament more time to implement the recommendations.

A Shorten Labor Government will implement 75 recommendations of the Royal Commission in full and stand up for Australians affected by banking misconduct.

This stands in stark contrast with Scott Morrison and the Liberals, who continue to protect the big banks and are delaying, watering down or rejecting at least 15 recommendations.

Unlike the Liberals, we will fully implement the Royal Commission’s recommendation to end the hawking of insurance products, to ensure there are consequences when the big banks breach industry codes and to ban life insurance commissions if ASIC finds there is no clear justification for retaining them.

Labor has already announced tough new accountability mechanisms on the banks and regulators to ensure that a further 23 recommendations are implemented in full, as soon as possible.

Labor has also already drafted bills to enact five of Commissioner Hayne’s recommendations – these could be law before the election if Scott Morrison ends his protection racket for the big banks and agrees to extra sitting weeks in March.

Labor will establish a groundbreaking victim compensation package. It’s the courage of victims who have shared their stories that has shown us the need for reform. We must ensure that these victims aren’t left behind as we clean up the sector after a decade of misconduct. Under Labor’s plan, more victims will have the opportunity to pursue a just outcome, and all consumers will benefit from quadrupled AFCA compensation caps going forward.

Labor will also abolish trail commissions from lenders to mortgage brokers and aggregators on new loans from 1 July 2020 as well as banning volume-based commissions and ‘soft dollar’ payments being offered to brokers by lenders.

Labor will deal with the Royal Commission’s key concerns with mortgage broker remuneration, namely conflicted remuneration and incentives that drive higher average loans sizes that may not be in the consumer’s best interests. We will impose a fixed percentage upfront fee for brokers that will eliminate the conflict of interest that comes from different lenders offering different commission rates, while ensuring these upfront commission can only apply to the amount drawn down by the borrower, not the total loan amount.

Scott Morrison never wanted the Royal Commission – he voted against it 26 times. He described it as a ‘populist whinge’, a ‘reckless distraction’ and a ‘QC’s complaints desk’. For 600 days, while Labor pushed for this Royal Commission, the Liberals fought for the banks to get a $17b tax handout. Now his government is deliberately going slow on the implementation of its recommendations.

The Liberals simply cannot be trusted to crack down on the big banks.

Labor’s position is crystal clear – we will implement 75 recommendations in full.  The single remaining recommendation – Recommendation 1.3 – will be implemented in a manner that will achieve the objectives set out by Commissioner Hayne. More detail on this recommendation is in our full response.

Labor called for this Royal Commission, Labor fought for this Royal Commission, and Labor will work day and night to ensure that we deliver the reforms recommended by the Royal Commission.

LABOR’S NATIONAL FIRE FIGHTING FLEET

A Shorten Labor Government will boost Australia’s firefighting capabilities with a national fleet of aircraft and dedicated smokejumper units to keep Australians safe from bushfires.

All Australians understand the devastating impact that bushfires have. Lives are lost, homes destroyed and communities shattered.

Our firefighters and emergency services personnel are among the best in the world, and they do a tremendous job, often putting their own lives at risk. But they need more support from government.

At the moment, Australia doesn’t have a government-owned fleet of water bombing aircraft – making us reliant on borrowing from private companies domestically and from overseas.

The bushfire season in Australia is lengthening and already overlapping with the northern hemisphere, increasing the risk that we won’t be able to access the aircraft we need at times of peril.

At the same time, the Federal Government’s contribution to the National Aerial Firefighting Centre has plummeted from 50 per cent of funding to just 23 per cent, reducing our overall firefighting capability.

The Bureau of Meteorology has identified this summer as Australia’s hottest on record, which included devastating bushfires in Victoria and Tasmania. Now is the time to invest in giving our firefighters the resources they need to keep us all safe.

Labor’s national firefighting package will deliver:

$80 million to establish the National Aerial Bushfire Fighting Fleet of aircraft

This fleet will provide standing aerial firefighting capacity that can be used on demand in emergencies.

It will include retro-fitted Black Hawk helicopters as they are phased out from active use by the Australian Army and Erickson S-64 Air-crane helicopters (or ‘Elvis’ as they are commonly known) which has a 2,650 gallon tank capable of snorkelling or scooping fresh or salt water.

It’s expected that the national fleet will include a standing capability of up to six Large or Very Large Air Tankers, and up to 12 heavy rotary wing helicopters.

The benefits of aerial firefighting are clear. Aircrafts offer speed, access and observation advantages over ground crews. Containment is more effective and the final fire burned area minimised using aerial capability, thereby reducing demand on ground crews.

Australia’s first ‘smokejumper’ units

Smokejumpers are firefighters trained to be rapidly deployed by helicopters at remote fires during the short window during which those fires can be contained.

Smokejumpers usually rappel from helicopters and use chain-saws, hoes and other dry firefighting tools to establish a containment perimeter around the fire. They then patrol the perimeter to ensure the fire does not jump containment lines while working with water-bombing aircraft to ensure the contained fire is fully extinguished.

California and other US states currently have a number of smokejumper units which have proven successful.

As part of the $80 million commitment to establish a fleet, Labor will work with the states and territories to establish smokejumper units across the country.

$21 million for the National Aerial Firefighting Centre (NAFC)

A Shorten Labor Government will stop the Federal Government’s reduction in funding for our firefighting capabilities by returning to a 50-50 funding split between the states and territories and the Commonwealth.

Labor’s investment will ease the burden on state and territory governments, develop new national programs including a national risk management model, and national research and development programs including trials of new aircraft and night firefighting activities.

Labor can pay for new firefighting aircraft the smokejumper units because we are making multinationals pay their fair share and closing tax loopholes for the top end of town.

Australian Greens announce commitment to a 21st Century NBN

Australian Greens Digital RIghts spokesperson Senator Jordon Steele-John has today announced the Australian Greens commitment to a 21st Century NBN, finished using best-choice technology, to ensure everyone has access to affordable, reliable and high quality internet services into the future.

Senator Steele-John said our internet was slower and less affordable than comparable countries, with Australia ranked 56th in the world for internet speed and 57th in world for affordability.

“The reality is that Australia is lagging behind the rest of the world when it comes to having access to reliable, affordable and high quality internet services,” he said.

“The Coalition’s Multi-technology mix has been a disaster that has left many people without reliable or affordable services, particularly in rural and regional areas.

“This is not what was promised, nor what Australia needs to ensure that our companies are able to remain globally competitive into the digital future.

“Our commitment is to keep the NBN infrastructure publicly owned and ensure that the rollout of the NBN is finished using best choice technology, not the multi-techology mongrel that the Coalition will leave us with.

“Our promise is to make quality telecommunications affordable for all Australians and ensure regional telecommunications are funded, fair and fit for purpose.

“Affordable, quality telecommunications are fundamental to the future of Australia’s economy, jobs, education, essential services and way of life.”

Key points – 21st Century NBN:

  • $1.3 billion to establish Federal Telecommunications Concession
  • $250 million NBN migration program to close the digital divide
  • Keep NBN infrastructure publicly owned
  • Finish the NBN using best-choice technology
  • Make quality telecommunications affordable for all Australians
  • Ensure regional telecommunications are funded, fair and fit for purpose

Details of the policy can be found here: https://greens.org.au/platform/public-ownership#telecomm

Mount Roland Cable Car

The Tasmanian government is continuing to privatise public land through its secretive expressions of interest process, Greens Senator for Tasmania Nick McKim says.

“The first-stage approval of the Mount Roland cable car is effectively a sell-off and lock up of one of the most precious and beautiful parts of our state,” Senator McKim said.

“The Liberals have learned nothing from the backlash over Lake Malbena, and want to push ahead with their secretive process.”

“Tasmania’s reserves, national parks and the TWWHA are not theirs to sell.”

“The Greens will keep fighting to keep our precious places in public hands.”

Greens Statement In Response to Offensive Comments from Peter Dutton

Dr Mehreen Faruqi, Senator for NSW, has has responded to Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton’s disgraceful comments attacking her this morning. Senator Faruqi is the first Muslim woman to serve in any Australian Parliament and Australia’s only Muslim Senator.

Senator Faruqi said:

“Peter Dutton is the Minister for Home Affairs and is meant to be keeping us safe. For some time we have been saying he isn’t fit for the job but this morning’s tone deaf comments further prove it.

“He still refuses to take responsibility for his role in demonising Muslims, migrants and refugees. Trying to claim that my response to the horrific massacre and Senator Anning’s disgraceful comments that harm our community are in any way equivalent is just vile.

“Peter Dutton’s comments show that Australian politicians are still not listening. Our country needs leadership and reflection on how to stamp out hate and Islamophobia,” she concluded.