OPPOSITION Leader Bill Shorten made Logan Hospital his first stop in Queensland to spruik Labor’s alternative budget on Monday.
Labor candidate for Forde Des Hardman and Rankin MP Jim Chalmers joined the opposition leader for a tour of Logan Hospital where they looked at medical imaging equipment and spoke to patients and staff.
Mr Shorten committed to funding 20 MRI machines for regional and outlying areas in Labor’s budget-reply speech last week.
Labor’s alternative budget also includes income tax cuts for low and middle income earners, more funding for Tafe and uncapped university places.
Labor candidate for Forde and Logan Hospital radiographer Des Hardman said extra resources were desperately needed in places like Logan.
“You can only imagine how excited I was on Thursday night (to hear) in the budget reply speech an announced 20 MRI scanners under a Labor government for regional areas and outlying suburbs,” he said.
“That is really exciting and I believe these types of announcements and commitments are what people in our community expect from government.”
While talking up the policy, Mr Shorten could not guarantee Logan Hospital would receive one of the extra MRI machines if Labor were elected.
“What I am saying is we need to have 20 new MRI machines around Australia and obviously that goes to Queensland,” he said.
“We want to make sure the process for allocating scarce and lifesaving technology is done with some independent and transparent criteria.
“I have no doubt there will be more MRI machines for Brisbane and regional Queensland and that is what matters.”
Logan Hospital has been under pressure this year with Queensland Health statistics revealing it was among one of the worst in Australia with respect to patient waiting times.
Mr Shorten said the Queensland government could only do so much to address the issue and instead shifted blame to the Federal Turnbull government.
“I think the fact that there have been problems with waiting times shows this is the wrong time for Mr Turnbull to be cutting funding to hospitals,” he said.
“Why is Mr Turnbull making life harder for the Queensland government by taking money out of the health care system? If I get elected in the first couple of weeks I will be on the phone to Premier (Annastacia) Palaszczuk because we want to reduce waiting times and work together.
“It is very hard for the Queensland government to do everything when you have the Turnbull government ripping money out of Queensland hospitals.”
Forde LNP MP Bert van Manen refuted Mr Shorten’s claims of federal cuts to hospitals.
“We have a new public hospital agreement which will deliver more than $30 billion in additional funding between 2020-21 and 2024-25 — a 30 per cent increase over the previous five years,” Mr van Manen said.
“Commonwealth funding for Queensland hospitals is increasing to record levels every year.
“In 2017-18 the Turnbull Government delivered an additional $275.5 million to Queensland Hospitals.
“Funding is growing from less than $2.8 billion under the previous Labor government to more than $4.8 billion under the Coalition in 2020-21.”
Rankin MP Jim Chalmers said Labor would go to the next election prioritising health funding over corporate tax cuts.
“We have terrific staff here doing their best to make sure they can treat as many people in this growing community as possible,” he said.
“We have got the State government putting hundreds of millions of dollars into infrastructure upgrades so that they can get behind the local doctors and patients and staff here at Logan Hospital.
Logan Hospital is in the marginal LNP Forde electorate held by Bert van Manen on 50.6% with little more than 1000 votes separating the two major parties.