To listen the article select text   Click to listen highlighted text! To listen the article select text

Labor promises $38m to expand newborn healthcare

Shadow Minister for Health and Ageing Mark Butler made the announcement at Muddy’s Playground alongside Leichhardt candidate Elida Faith.“Our screening program has not kept pace with this extraordinary period of technological advance,” said Mr Butler“There is currently no screening for spinal muscular atrophy, a condition that can be fatal for newborn babies. Labor will make sure that all parents have access to technology that identifies conditions early.”Labor senator Nita Green was also present at the announcement, attending “as a mum” with her new baby Stevie.“Those first few days in the hospital are exciting but also filled with anxiousness, wondering if your baby is okay. Having a newborn screening program … is the peace of mind that parents need,” said Ms Green.“It shouldn’t matter if you live in regional Australia or a big city, you should have access to the same healthcare.”The announcement has been partially welcomed by local health experts, but Dr Jason King of Yarrabah’s Gurriny Yealamucka Health Service says world-class screening programs are just the first piece of the puzzle. “I would hope to see that once the Pandora’s box of a broad screening program is opened that the expected increase in cases for these conditions is matched with meaningful funding … including primary care funding, which represents the core of the health system for families struggling with congenital health conditions.“Indigenous Australians are disproportionately affected by access to effective screening programs. The challenges of Indigenous Health … can only be achieved through effective funding across all tiers of the health system.”Dr Natalie Kiesey-Calding from Cairns Obstetrics and Gynaecology says that the funding would be better directed towards subsidising Non-Invasive Prenatal Testing (NIPT), which is 99 per cent effective in detecting trisomy 21 – Down syndrome. “The NIPT costs $400 but is not on Medicare. If you can’t afford $400, then the only other test available is an amniocentesis, which is invasive and carries with it the risk of miscarriage. So equitable access to the NIPT would be a better subsidy.”MAY 8: Labor to cut PBS at $30 a scriptTHE high cost of medicines will be slashed if Labor wins the federal election, saving Australians at least $12.50 per script filled under the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme.On Friday Labor candidate for Leichhardt, Elida Faith said under her party’s proposal, a person taking one medication a month could save $150 a year and those taking two medications a month would be $300 better off annually.NED-6099-Election-2022-Prepoll-BannerMs Faith met with Shadow Assistant Minister Financial Services, Matt Thistlewate and Senator Nita Green and WholeLife Pharmacy and Healthfoods owner, pharmacist Jason Christopher, at the Earlville business to announce proposed PBS changes to take effect from January 1, 2023, Labor will reduce the maximum co-payment under the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) from $42.50 to a maximum of $30, a reduction of 29 per cent which would mean potentially over $190m in out-of-pocket costs.“People should not have to choose between medications they need filled and putting food on the table,” she said.“We know out-of-pocket health care costs are too high in FNQ and cutting the cost of medications will help up to 127,239 people in Leichhardt. Mr Thistlewaite said Australians deserved to be able to afford to take the medicines their GP prescribed. In Cairns Shadow Assistant Minister Financial Services, Matt Thistlewate said PBS medicines too costly and said Labor will ensure lower PBS script costs for Australians. “These changes to the PBS are necessary because we need to make sure that Australians can afford the medications they need,” he said. Mr Christopher said every day he saw distraught customers having to choose which scripts to fill and which to go without in order to buy food.“I think our healthcare is failing Australians,” he said.“In 2020-21 over 900,000 Australians chose to delay or not fill a prescription advocated by their doctor to improve their health outcomes, because of cost, some might say they can only afford a few and skip the rest, so this option takes up the burden.”Cairns pharmacist Jason Christopher said too many Cairns patients cannot afford to fill their scripts for prescription medicines and that federal healthcare is failing FNQ.Senator Green also criticised Leichhardt MP Warren Entsch for not reporting he had contracted Covid a few months ago.“People in our community were doing the right thing getting tested and reporting them and it is clear Mr Entsch felt he was above those laws,” she said. MAY 2: Labor’s Help to Buy scheme: Reaction as Cairns market surgesLABOR’S bombshell plan to become co-owners of 10,000 homes around Australia has caught the Far North real estate industry by surprise.Anthony Albanese unveiled the major election policy at the ALP’s official campaign launch in Perth – and the cash registers are already ringing.He said a Labor federal government would throw in up to a 40 per cent stake in new builds, and 30 per cent for existing homes, to help more Australians afford to enter the property market.RE/MAX Real Estate Cairns agent Ray Murphy said the measure should help bolster the Cairns housing market for longer. “If you look in Sydney and Melbourne, the market is starting to soften,” he said.“It takes about six months for what happens down there to trickle through to us.“Everything here is still pumping but I’m not naive enough to think a change won’t come eventually.“But if this does happen, the market could keep kicking on a while longer.”It will come down to a question of scale.Labor is proposing to apply the Help to Buy scheme to 10,000 properties per year.More than 590,000 houses and units were sold across the country last year, with values rising 21.9 per cent nationally – the fastest rate on record.Homebuyers with a taxable income of less than $90,000 for individuals, and $120,000 for couples, will be eligible. They cannot currently own a home, but they do not have to be first homebuyers. Eligible buyers must put up a 2 per cent deposit and qualify from a home loan from a bank or other lender to cover the rest of the price. No lenders’ mortgage insurance fees will apply, and owners will get the opportunity to buy out the government’s equity share over time.Property price caps have been set according to location – up to $650,000 for Queensland cities and $550,000 for regional areas. Sydney will have a $950,000 cap.“It will let more people who can’t afford to get into the housing market to have ownership and start paying off a home, rather than renting,” Mr Murphy said.The ALP estimates the scheme will cost about $329m over the next four years.The policy comes as the Reserve Bank stands poised to raise the interest rate for the first time in more than a decade to target inflation.Treasurer Josh Frydenberg has criticised Labor’s plan, pointing out the Coalition had announced 50,000 places per year in its First Home Guarantee Scheme. “We have the better policies on housing and under our policies Australians will own their own home, under the Labor Party’s policies Anthony Albanese will be their landlord,” he said.Labor and Liberal APRIL 28: ‘NDIS chaos’: Shorten says government is destroying scheme THE failures of the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) scheme were laid bare at a forum in Cairns on Thursday.Speaking after the event, Opposition spokesman for the NDIS Bill Shorten said the federal government was spending money on lawyers to fight people making NDIS claims.“The NDIS is a great model, it is a great thing and it has changed so many lives, but it’s clunky, cumbersome, and it’s becoming difficult for everyone to operate,” he said.He said there was “a stealthy campaign of cuts to thousands of people’s packages” and not enough service providers.“You can get a package of $50,000 or $60,000 in Far North Queensland, but you don’t have the ability to use it because there’s not enough allied health professionals,” Mr Shorten said.Labor candidate for Leichhardt Elida Faith pointed out Medicare, superannuation and the NDIS were introduced by Labor governments.“We have spent the best part of a decade watching the Morrison government’s cuts, mismanagement and chaos on the NDIS – we have just sat down with (people) and they are frustrated, they are at their wit’s end,” Ms Faith said.“They want the NDIS fixed.”Mr Shorten said Ms Faith “didn’t pack up her toys and go home when defeated at the last election, she’s here working hard”.He took aim at incumbent Warren Entsch, saying “Warren is the Foghorn Leghorn of Far North Queensland, the big old rooster who turns up and stamps his foot, it makes a big old noise but not a lot happens”.Asked for a response, Mr Entsch said the LNP had put $35m to date into the NDIS.“I concede it was introduced by the Labor government, but they didn’t put a dollar into it, we have put in $35bn and continued to increase it as demand has grown, there has never been a reduction,” Mr Entsch said.“Obviously I am getting under his skin,” Mr Entsch said.“It always happens when they have nothing intelligent to contribute, they make personal slurs and I am not going to go down that path.”APRIL 22: Solomon Islands’ China deal makes Cairns marine upgrade criticalA CHINESE military flex has triggered a defence domino effect that has rocketed a $300m-plus Cairns project to critical status. The Solomon Island’s controversial new security pact with China has politicians on both side of the electoral divide chasing their tails for a suitable response.Labor defence spokesman Brendan O’Connor met with Advance Cairns representatives on Friday and got the low-down on the advocacy group’s top priority.Calls for a $300m-$400m common-user facility to allow shipyards to hoist and carry out repairs on huge navy and Border Patrol ships now have an extra sting in their tail.“Investing in defence local industry in places like Cairns, having more investment in defence capability here, would actually allow for Cairns to be better off economically,” Mr O’Connor said.“More broadly, I think if we are increasing our defence capability, that’s actually acting as a deterrent from any potential conflict, and I do believe that’s what we need to do.”Neither Labor nor the LNP has committed funds to the project – but Advance Cairns chairman Nick Trompf left the meeting certain Mr O’Connor had heard the message loud and clear.He said the Solomon Islands decision meant Cairns, by virtue of proximity, would have a significant role as a maintenance hub for Australian and US naval vessels.The city currently has one shipyard that can lift a 3500-tonne vessel.The new common-user facility – which also requires state government investment – would allow 120m-long ships with 5000-tonne capacity to be lifted.“The common-user facility has a colourful history, but now all three shipyards recognise the need for it – and the state government’s business case highlights the need for it,” Mr Trompf said.Significant federal funding has gone into the marine precinct in recent years, including the recent awarding of $155m to upgrade wharves and refresh HMAS Cairns, a $70m regional maintenance centre contract to NORSTA Maritime, TAFE Queensland winning a $36m Pacific Patrol Vessel training deal, and the city’s three slipways scoring $8m apiece for upgrades.However, this project dwarfs the lot of them.The navy’s decision to make Cairns the first of four regional maintenance centres – beating Darwin, Henderson in WA and NSW – is a sign of the city’s strategic importance.Mr Trompf said he was confident Mr O’Connor understood the importance of the project and would take it into serious consideration.“The focus for many years has been tilted towards the Indo-Pacific,” he said.“Events this week have highlighted very clearly the need for greater focus on the South Pacific.”APRIL 20: LABOR KURANDA RANGE PLAN UNDER SCRUTINYA STATE government claim that shoved major Kuranda Range upgrades into the never-never has come under scrutiny after intervention from the party’s upper tier.Federal Labor has unveiled a $210m safety upgrade plan for the Kuranda Range Rd despite a Palaszczuk government report stating no major works were needed until 2051.Opposition transport spokeswoman Catherine King said she was unaware of the controversial report but the state government did “believe there are safety and resilience issues”.The upgrades in question will focus on guard rails, widening road shoulders and preventing land slippages.Far North Queensland Regional Organisation of Councils executive officer Darlene Irvine said the pledge was a step in the right direction.“The state has shot itself in the foot with that (Cairns to Northern Tablelands Access) report,” she said.However, Queensland Transport Minister Mark Bailey said the study distinguished between safety upgrades and major duplication works.“The (study) released earlier this year found that, while an alternative route was not required in the immediate term, important safety upgrades along the Kennedy Highway were necessary such as slope stabilisation and other safety works,” he said.“I then wrote to the Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce asking for additional federal funding to reduce the number of crashes and length of road closures due to landslips. We received no response from him or the Morrison Government whatsoever.”Ms Irvine said one of the biggest hurdles to fixing the route was convincing the state government to update its Far North regional plan.“If something is not in the regional plan, we won’t get anything from the state,” she said.The Urban Development Institute of Australia is also championing the new regional plan calls.It will host a regional plan forum at Crystalbrook’s Flynn hotel in Cairns on Thursday next week with key local, state and federal politicians set to take the stage.APRIL 19: LABOR KURANDA RANGE PLANLABOR has unveiled the Far North’s biggest election infrastructure pledge to date with $210m to upgrade the Kuranda Range Rd – but it still falls well short of the ultimate fix.Opposition transport spokeswoman Catherine King will make the major funding announcement on Wednesday as motorists grapple with an incessant series of crashes, landslides and infuriating road closures.The $210m will be spent on safety and resilience upgrades including “guard rails, widened shoulders and increased protection against weather impacts and land slippages”.Any hope of cash to duplicate the Barron River Bridge or build a second range crossing will go wanting, at least in this round of announcements.“Good roads are the backbone of regions like Far North Queensland,” Ms King said.“To keep them up to date, they need regular investment.“Only an Albanese Labor Government will partner with the Queensland Government to deliver the upgrades that locals really need.”Federal Labor has also hinted at planning for longer-term solutions in concert with the Queensland Government.Inefficient range crossings have plagued the region for decades and only stand to further deteriorate as population and industrial growth progresses.Kennedy MP Bob Katter has been proposing a new Bridle Track crossing from Cairns and Mareeba with a 1km to 2km tunnel, which he says would cost $600m.However, road construction costings are a point of contention.Regional Development Australia Tropical North chairman David Kempton recently suggested widening the existing range road could be the most cost-effective medium-term solution.“Widening the existing Kuranda Range Road to B-double standard and creating more overtaking lanes is possible within the current footprint with minimal disturbance to the Wet Tropics area,” he said.The dollar figure for such a project would far exceed Labor’s $210m pledge.A cost estimate from 2014 was $3.1bn – although Mr Kempton put much of that down to “cost from inflation and debt servicing” – compared to just $300m in 2001 and $700m in 2006. Whatever the cost, it is clear prices are on the rise.The Cairns Post has championed the need for a Kuranda Range solution through its Fix Our Broken Link campaign.The commitment is still a key win for Labor’s Kennedy candidate Jason Brandon and Elida Faith in Leichhardt.They have locked down the biggest Far North major-party pledge to date, adding to the ALP’s decision to match the Coalition’s recent announcement of $107.5m towards the Cairns water security project.“For people heading into Cairns, this investment will be a gamechanger,” Mr Brandon said. “This is a great announcement for our region, and only an Albanese Labor Government will deliver it.”Ms Faith said she had advocated hard for the project.“Locals know that the road is getting busier, but the infrastructure isn’t keeping up,” she said.APRIL 17: ADVANCE CAIRNS’ MEETING WITH LABORA MEETING between Labor’s Anthony Albanese and Advance Cairns has been regarded a success with positive signs the Opposition could commit to expanding the marine precinct.Although no commitments were made, Advanced Cairns chief executive Paul Sparshott said the 30-minute meeting with Labor leader Anthony Albanese, shadow treasurer Jim Chalmers, Leichhardt candidate Elida Faith and senator Nita Green, “couldn’t have gone better”. Before the meeting, Mr Albanese was asked about his party’s position on investing in and acting on the Cairns Marine Precinct business case, to which he responded: “We are broadly supportive. We’ll be meeting with Advanced Cairns about that and other issues.” Mr Sparshott revealed those other issues included Advanced Cairns’ continued lobbying for $300-400 million for a Cairns Port common user facility, $24 million towards upgrading the shipyards and $11 million towards expanding the Great Barrier Reef International Marine College’s (GBRIMC) offerings. “They (the Labor representatives) didn’t come up with any numbers, but they were very interested in it all as a package deal,” Mr Sparshott said. “Yes we want to build and upgrade the marine precinct to create jobs but they were interested in how the CQ University funding and the GBRIMC would educate people to take those jobs up.” Mr Sparshott said he also asked if Labor was elected, that it consider investment and talks to “encourage” local shipping company Sea Swift to upgrade and build new ships in Australia. “Sea Swift has 26 ships and they can perform duties that can help increase our sovereign capability in the North. “We spoke about the need to upgrade their ships and building ships and how that’s going to happen in Indonesia. There’s a cost penalty to doing that in Australia. “So we need a government to invest in Sea Swift which is owned by the state government, by the Queensland Investment Corporation. We want the government to commit to a partnership by working with Sea Swift to ensure their program of work, including vessel refits and new builds is commercially viable and constructed in Cairns.” Mr Sparshott said while he didn’t enter the meeting expecting firm commitments, Mr Albanese seemed to “understand the issues of sovereign capability, diversifying our economy and growing jobs as a package deal.” APRIL 16: LABOR PROMISE WATER SECURITY FUNDING LABOR leader Anthony Albanese has matched his opposition’s pledge of $107.5 million towards Cairns’ water security project, guaranteeing bipartisan support towards the critical campaign. On Thursday the LNP had made its commitment to fund half the $215 million project but stated assurances were required from Labor before its federal spend could be guaranteed. The opposition leader’s announcement means only the state government is now left to commit funds towards new water infrastructure before Cairns Regional Council is forced to pass on costs of the project to ratepayers while slashing services. “We’ll match that,” Mr Albanese said in a visit to Cairns on Saturday, when asked of the LNP’s $107.5 million commitment. “Obviously the business case needs to be submitted to the state Government with regard to their funding. But we’ll match the commitment. “Cairns’ water supply was directed when there was 40,000 people here. There’s a lot more now and there needs to be a strategy going forward and Cairns can’t be running out of water.”Labor leader Anthony Albanese held a media conference in Cairns with treasurer James Chalmers, Senator Nita Green and ALP Leichhardt candidate Elida Faith Following a difficult opening week of the campaign where Mr Albanese was criticised by his own party for becoming a political “chameleon” on the campaign trail which came after his unemployment rate and cash rate gaffe, followed by a correction to his Medicare policy’s costings, the ALP leader was still confident of success. “We think we’re a real shot here in Cairns. Elida Faith has a big advantage running the second time in Cairns.” Federal Election 2022 Queensland key seatsWhile Mr Albanese fired shots at the government for “leaving behind” regional Australia and the Far North’s tourism sector, he supported the need to diversify the region’s economy. However when asked about Advanced Cairns’ calls for investment into the Cairns Marine Precinct for a common user facility to grow marine industry jobs, the opposition leader remained tight-lipped. “We are broadly supportive,” he said of the Cairns Marine Precinct business case. “We’ll be meeting with Advanced Cairns about that and other issues.” Speaking to health, which Mr Albanese said would “always be better off under Labor”, he confirmed his recently announced Medicare urgent care clinics would be “making a presence in the Cairns area.” But when asked about the concerns local GPs had reported in the past 12 months including the inability to attract doctors to the Far North, Mr Albanese did not specify his plans to reverse the trend locally, instead he said: “You need to provide them incentives to come to the regions.”He also spoke to Labor’s policy on housing – an issue crippling the Far North – stating 30,000 new social and affordable housing properties would be built in the first five years, with 4000 allocated for women and children fleeing domestic and family violence and older women on low incomes who are at risk of homelessness. APRIL 11: THE increasing cost of living is one of the biggest pressures impacting Far North residents who deserve better, according to the Labor candidate for Leichhardt, Elida Faith.Labor candidate Elida Faith and other candidates for the volatile seat including Katter Australia Party’s Rod Jensen and current seat holder — LNP’s Warren Entsch also launched their campaigns to the media for the May 21 Federal Election.While outlining her policies, Ms Faith said getting a fairer deal for residents in FNQ was the most important.“Scott Morrison has neglected FNQ,” she said. “The cost of living has skyrocketed, not just for those in Cairns but across all of FNQ.“When elected, Labor is going to ease the cost of living by making childcare cheaper, cutting power bills and creating more secure jobs.”Ms Faith said while she believed that Labor leader Anthony Albanese would triumph on May 21, she was prepared to go into battle on behalf of the electorate no matter who held the top job in Canberra.“My focus is on the people of FNQ and if I get in, no matter who is Prime Minister I will do my best for them,” she said.“Every time I have been out asking people what they want, they tell me they want someone who will listen and act.“We need a strong FNQ voice in Canberra, (instead) we have a strong Canberra voice in Cairns and we had a budget which completely snubbed us.” Speaking before a crowd of party faithful at the Cairns Esplanade, Ms Faith who was joined by Far North-based Senator Nita Green, said losing out to Mr Entsch in 2019 has only made her more determined to make a successful run in 2022.It’s her second tilt at federal politics after getting 28.8 per cent of the vote and a 0.07 per cent increase, Ms Faith lost to current incumbent Mr Entsch in 2019 who tallied 37.6 per cent of the vote despite a 1.9 per cent drop. “On election night I spoke with Warren Entsch and my passion did not go away to represent FNQ,” she said,“Since then I have been out in the community listening to what they want and what I have been hearing is … they want a government who does not blame everyone else for their failures.”Encompassing 148,559sq km, the Division of Leichhardt covers an area larger than Nepal and includes the Cape York Peninsula and the Far North Queensland east coast as far south as Cairns which holds the majority of the seat’s voting population.Ms Faith said she was very supportive of the Cairns Marine Precinct and would back the Advance Cairns calls to revive the region’s specialist ship and boat building infrastructure.Cairns Post where to get [email protected]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Click to listen highlighted text!