The Crest of the Commonwealth of Australia Treasury Portfolio Ministers
Picture of Wayne Swan

Wayne Swan

Deputy Prime Minister and Treasurer

3 December 2007 - 27 June 2013

19 December 2012

A plea to Premier Newman: put down your scalpel

I was very grateful for the opportunity this morning to meet with the hard working nurses from Townsville Hospital.

The Federal Government has made over $390 million worth of investments at the Townsville Hospital in since coming to office, which makes me proud as a Labor Treasurer and as a Queenslander.

Funding for Townsville Hospital has included:

  • An expansion of the current operating theatre;
  • A new clinical block that will accommodate up to 64 additional beds;
  • Expansion of pathology, laboratory and other supporting infrastructure;
  • $60m in both capital and recurrent funding for subacute beds
  • $67.5 million to enhance cancer services - with just last month a new PET scanner making it first scans.

Sadly, however, the nurses I met today are exactly the sort of dedicated health professionals in the firing line under the Newman Government's callous cuts to health services in regional Queensland.

They are understandably dismayed by the fact that 4,140 Queensland health workers are losing their jobs as a result of the Newman Government's slash and burn health budget.

It is nothing short of devastating that the Newman Government has run such a heartless and senseless campaign against health spending in regional Queensland.

Frontline services such as those in North Queensland stand to wear the brunt of it the impact of this $1.6 billion decimation.

In Townsville alone, these cuts mean there will be almost 300 health service jobs lost - make no mistake, this will have an enormous impact in the local community. 

To illustrate the sort of cuts the Newman Government are proposing, they include funding for services such as breast screening and preventative health programs.

This is simply staggering.

I plead with Premier Newman to put down his scalpel before he does any more damage to the people of Townsville.

Premier Newman's actions are in stark contrast to those of the Gillard Government, where federal funding for health in Queensland will increase by 21% over the next four years, going from $3.1 billion in 2012-2013 to $3.7 billion in 2015-16 – an additional $600 million.

For our part, the Gillard Government will continue making record investments in health in North Queensland and across the country because we believe it is right that every single Australian can get high quality health services when and where they are needed.