MR ENTSCH: It gives me great pleasure to advise that the land required to build the Cairns university hospital has now been purchased.
It’s a major step in ensuring the long-overdue and much-needed project becomes a reality.
In 2019, the Morrison government, in partnership with James Cook University, announced a $60 million investment to get the ball rolling on the project.
Sadly, however, these funds sat in the can while everybody waited and waited for Queensland’s state Labor government to come to the party.
But, like most things when it comes to Queensland Labor, they were more interested in playing politics rather than in delivering for the community.
They were furious at the fact that we announced that we had delivered the required federal funding that was necessary for stage 1; after all, it was their proposal in the first instance.
The Queensland Labor government then threw their toys out of the cot and tried everything in their power to railroad the project.
But on the eve of last state election—surprise, surprise!—they actually started to show an interest in their own proposal, after a very successful campaign by the local media, the Cairns Post.
They were literally dragged kicking and scheming to support their own project.
But once the election was run and won, guess what? Nothing.
James Cook University decided enough was enough and took the initiative to secure the required parcels of land so that the Queensland Labor government couldn’t stall the project any longer.
They’ve also entered into an agreement with the Cairns Hospital and Queensland Health to ensure stage 2 of the project can be built on that purchased land.
I find it mind-boggling that the state government’s MP for Cairns, Michael Healy, claimed in local media that this was all a surprise to him.
This was especially curious given that he’d planned a media event to announce the land purchase and agreement but had had to cancel that after he was forced into isolation due to a recent Brisbane COVID outbreak—not to mention the fact that he’d also organised for the state health minister to attend the rescheduled announcement.
That, for some reason, didn’t go ahead.
The Queensland government can’t stall the project any longer.
Construction on stage 1, which is the demolition of properties that are standing on this land, will commence later this year.
This is going to mean local jobs and opportunities for local businesses.
I certainly hope that the Queensland government doesn’t take a decade to do the business case for stage 2 and that it finally stumps up with the cash for the state-required contribution for stage 2.
The last thing we need is half a hospital because the Queensland Labor government has again thrown its toys out of the cot.
I was a little bit disappointed with the Queensland state government budget recently.
They hadn’t added any extra money into it, but nevertheless, in spite of all of that, I have no doubt that this project will go ahead.
It’s going to make a huge difference for our city.
Another issue I’d like to raise is in relation to insurance.
Again, the Morrison government has listened to Far North Queensland—and to northern Australia, for that matter.
It has acted and will deliver lower insurance prices.
This has been a major problem.
There has been insurance failure.
It has taken over a decade to be able to get recognition.
We have a member here who certainly has been very much aware of this and has been very, very supportive in the work that we’ve done in getting to this point.
But we’re there now.
You can only imagine my surprise when recently the four state Labor members in my neck of the woods decided to express their two cents worth on an issue that they’ve never spoken to in the entire time that they’ve been in the job.
It’s clear that our D-grade state Labor members don’t actually know what they’re talking about, because they were arguing that the $2.4 million allocated in the budget was all the money that was set aside for this reinsurance pool.
The reality is that that money has been set aside just to establish consultation round tables in Cairns, Townsville, the Whitsundays, Mackay and, I suspect, across northern Australia as well to ensure that this policy is right.
Remember, we’re starting right here from scratch and, given the size and scale of the scheme, you simply can’t click your fingers and, hey presto, there it is.
Furthermore, the scheme doesn’t start until 1 July 2022, so anybody with half a brain or any knowledge of accounting would understand that the $10 billion guarantee for the reinsurance pool would need to be available only in the 2022-23 financial year, to coincide with the scheme’s commencement.
I have to say to you that the Cairns based Labor senator made some very interesting observations recently—
An honourable member interjecting—
What’s her name? We forget that.
At recent Senate hearings it was clear that she had absolutely no clue what she was talking about.
I hear her performance—or lack of it—on the issue in estimates was bordering on laughable.
She’s very quick to throw spears, but she has never offered any solution.
It shows that she’s nothing more than the puppet for southern masters.
I challenge the senator to publicly say whether she supports this reinsurance pool. Why not?
It’s a simple question—yes or no.
Until such time as she either supports the policy or has a viable alternative—and at this stage that space is void—she has absolutely no credibility.
It will be interesting to see whether she takes up that challenge.
Finally, I come to the concerns I have with the ongoing Queensland Health induced health crisis that is plaguing our city and wider region.
The Queensland government talks a lot about health, but it’s abundantly clear it never delivers.
Only recently it was revealed that the Queensland government actually plans to cut more than $27 million from the Cairns and Hinterland Hospital and Health Service and more than $4 million from the Torres and Cape Hospital and Health Service.
These are two services that are already chronically underfunded and have serious problems.
We’ve seen major ramping at our emergency department, and here they are cutting another $27 million and $4 million respectively.
This will mean fewer essential health services for Far North Queenslanders.
Again I notice that our Labor senator and local Labor members are as quiet as church mouses on this issue.
There’s not a peep from any of them. There is not the slightest bit of fake outrage. You have to wonder why.
My office regularly receives horror stories about the diabolical state of our local health system.
I must stress that none of these complaints are ever about the hardworking doctors, nurses and allied health staff working in this broken system.
They are just fed up to their back teeth.
Sadly, Queenslanders are forced to come to me for assistance because they are consistently being ignored by the four local state MPs.
I’d like to share two stories in particular that highlight the broken health system under the Palaszczuk government.
I will call one of those people Jan.
For five years she has had a chronic issue that requires both knees to be replaced as soon as possible.
She was subsequently booked in for surgery only to be informed on the day before that it had been deferred for a few weeks.
It was then again deferred for another few weeks.
This went on for a period of time until eventually she had surgery on one of the knees.
She was told that the next knee would be done in the next three months.
We’re talking about a five-year period here.
When she went back and said that she needed this to be done in that period of time, unfortunately they said, ‘We don’t know anything about that.’
Here we are five years later and she still hasn’t been done.
She even got to a point where she had gone into the hospital, been prepped, had a cannula inserted, been given pre-op medication and been placed in a bed next to the operating theatre.
She thought it was going to happen then, but suddenly she was approached by nurses, had her cannula removed and was told to get dressed as the operation was cancelled because of another trauma case.
I’ll mention a second one too.
My brother, who lives in Cardwell, was referred in early February to the Townsville base hospital because he had a high PSA level in relation to his prostate.
The Townsville hospital said that they were not taking any more patients.
He went back later in February and again in May.
Only this week he was diagnosed with prostate cancer, and he still hasn’t had an opportunity to be treated.
It is appalling and it needs to be addressed. (Time expired)