Straight from the Senate - Issue 9
5.00pm | February 24, 2017
1. This week I visited Bankstown-Lidcombe Hospital with Shadow Health Minister, Catherine King MP. The staff we met are clearly passionate about their work, and the community they serve. However, the hospital faces real challenges in meeting the needs of a growing population in South West Sydney.
The Australian Medical Association recently released its 2017 Report Card, finding that “public hospital growth is not keeping pace with population growth, and is not increasing to meet the growing demand for services”. The report shows that national median waiting times for elective surgery have increased and are now the longest they have been since 2001-2. In addition, nationally only 73% of emergency department patients are attended to within the recommended timeframe. NSW Government data shows that at Bankstown Hospital one in every three emergency patients are being treated on time and 1,700 people are on surgery waiting lists. At the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) discussions later this year the Turnbull Government has the opportunity to work with states to restore healthcare funding. We are lucky to have dedicated healthcare staff that are passionate about caring for their communities. Government has a responsibility to provide them with the necessary resources to deliver this care.
This week the Fair Work Commission handed down its disappointing decision to reduce Sunday penalty rates for retail, fast food, hospitality and pharmacy workers. Labor strongly opposes this decision. Labor believes that workers who work unsociable hours and forgo time with their friends and families deserve to be compensated. Many workers in these industries survive on their penalty rates; relying on them to pay their rent and put food on the table. You can listen to Bill Shorten MP and retail and hospitality workers discussing the impact of the decision here.
Climate change and renewable energy continue to make headlines with the Coalition continuing to argue for new coal fired generation. Yesterday the Climate Council released its “State of Solar” report. The report shows that solar power uptake is surging and the industry now employs over 2.8 million people globally. The price of solar is becoming increasingly more affordable with a 58% reduction in cost over the last five years. Australia is a global leader in rooftop solar and household solar battery storage is expected to triple in Australia over 2017. It’s time that the Government joined the rest of the world and started preparing for a transition to a clean, secure and affordable energy system. Here is a short video I put together to help spread the word.