9 March 2011 Federal health funding should be withheld from the Rann Government in the next financial year to ensure three regional South Australian community hospitals remained open.
“If State Labor was not prepared to fund the hospitals then the Federal
Government should side-step the state and re-direct funds straight to the hospitals,” Shadow Health Minister Peter Dutton said in Adelaide today.
The Member for Barker, Patrick Secker will pressure the Federal government in Parliament to intervene and directly fund these three regional hospitals. “The State Government has shown no interest in the issue, now we are taking the next step and putting pressure on Minister for Health, Nicola Roxon to do the right thing by the community of Keith,” Mr Secker said.
Mr Dutton said the Rann Labor Government stood condemned for its penny pinching attitude and so too did South Australia Federal Labor MPs for standing on the sidelines and failing to support communities that have worked hard to provide their hospital facilities.
Visiting the Keith Community Hospital which could be forced to cease operations within weeks, Mr Dutton said the Rann Government was taking an irresponsible and bloody-minded stance in cutting off annual funding of a mere $1 million dollars which would keep such vital health facilities in rural South Australia.
"Where are the so-called powerbrokers of SA Labor -Don Farrell and Mark Butler? Clearly they are impotent to influence either the Rann Government or their own colleagues in Canberra to provide sensible outcomes for the South Australian people."
"As Mental Health Minister, Mr Butler is part of the Federal health ministry and should be doing all he can to keep health services operating, but either he doesn't care or is incapable of securing a relatively small amount of funding for these hospitals."
"Keith Hospital is not asking for a huge amount of money to keep its doors open, you would think the State Government could find that amount considering how important this hospital is, it will in fact cost the taxpayer in excess of $1.8 million if the hospital closes, it is in everyone's best interests to keep it open,” Mr Secker said.
"In contrast the Independents who keep the Gillard minority government in power are being showered with hundreds of millions of dollars for hospitals - $100 million for Andrew Wilkie and Royal Hobart Hospital, $75 million for Rob Oakeshott and Port Macquarie Hospital and $20 million for Tony Windsor and Tamworth Hospital," Mr Dutton said.
"And the Greens - the real government in Canberra - have forced Julia Gillard to continue pouring hundreds of millions more into "green" schemes that even she believes should be shut down."
Mr Dutton said the Keith Community Hospital was a vital health facility located as it was on major highways with no other similar facilities nearby.
"It is a life saving facility not just for the community it serves, but also for those travelling across the state's south-east."
He said both the Howard Government and the Rudd Government had provided more than a million dollars for upgrades to the Keith Hospital which would be wasted if the hospital closed.
Mr Secker said the Keith Hospital is running a funding model that the State Government should be looking at for its own hospitals - that’s how good it is, and yet the State Health Minister, John Hill has not even taken the time to visit the hospital and see for himself or meet the board in the last two years.
“This is the worst governance issue I have seen in my time in parliament and even a first year economics or accounting student would have seen the stupidity of this decision,” Mr Secker said.
The Coalition would do all it could to support the community of Keith to keep its hospital open.