Candidates for Finniss quizzed on how they would improve health services if elected

What do you expect from your Member for Finniss?

As the state’s biggest regional area with a continually aging population, improved health care on the Fleurieu was on the top of many residents’ list of priorities.

Too many are forced to travel to Adelaide for the support they need.

Before the district heads to the polls next weekend, The Times quizzed the five candidates for Finniss on how they would fight for increasing health services in the region.

LABOR

Labor candidate Russell Skinner said he did not believe in private hospitals profiting off work that should done by a public hospital.

“All services need to be available locally under an MMT funded arrangement so while its not policy yet this what I’m advocating for within the party,” he said. 

He said he would support the aging population by ensuring services were available locally.

“Monetary sovereign governments face no purely financial budget constraints. The real constraints that economies and governments face, are the ecological limits relating to what can be produced and consumed,” he said. “Want to build a Fast Train? Put $40 billion into a term deposit, once the funds are drawn down and the project is complete, that’s it, it’s done and there’s no debt overhang.”

He said he would expand on resources for the South Coast District Hospital (SCDH) dramatically as soon as the government moved to the MMT model.

LIBERAL

Liberal candidate David Basham said it was paramount that it becomes possible for children to be admitted to the SCDH, and cancer and other treatments be administered locally if safe and practical to do so.

How would you support the aging population that struggle to access health care without going to Adelaide?

“The federal government funds a project that enables third year medical students and other health students to work and learn along side a GP and other health professionals,” he said.

“This is a long term strategy that will encourage them to work in areas like Finniss including delivering specialist services in the area. In the meantime we need to make sure specialist continue to consult locally.”

He said under a Marshall Liberal Government, the SCDH would be managed by a regional board that understands the local needs and will be able to make decisions on managing the resources need by the people of Finniss.

CONSERVATIVES

Australian Conservatives candidate Bruce Hicks said the party was concerned about the neglect faced by regional and rural hospitals.

He said the government must focus on expanding the emergency department at the SCDH, which is struggling to cope even with the current population.

“We need to address the backlog of maintenance and repairs in our hospital and put health decisions back into the hands of the community so that funding is spent where it is needed and work is done to attract the right medical services,” he said.

He said the Australian Conservatives would call for an immediate commitment of $50 million to address the urgent backlog of maintenance at country hospitals within two years and further commit $70 million to the balance of work to be completed within four years.

“This is one way of attracting the right specialists to the area which would help our growing population as well as our ageing population,” he said.

SA-BEST

SA-BEST candidate Joe Hill said SA Health budgets for country hospitals needed to be restored and maintained, including the fast-tracking of capital upgrades and maintenance that he believes has been neglected by the centralised SA Health administration.

“The SCDH is too closely compared to regional hospitals such as Mt Gambier and Gawler despite the fact that we have a much older demographic and a local population which triples during the peak holiday season,” he said.

He said the SCDH had been proactive in developing programs which see visiting specialists meet patients locally and he would like to see it expanded.

“Many locals rely on public transport to get to their appointments, so I’m working closely with my colleague (Member for Mayo) Rebekha Sharkie on a new Regional Transport Plan which will connect the south coast communities to Adelaide with an affordable and reliable bus service.”

GREENS

For the Greens, Marc Mullette said he would look to the state to incentivise getting medical specialists into the area on a permanent or semi-permanent basis. 

“At present, people have few choices… they can wait three to four weeks or they can drive to Adelaide,” he said. “Ironically, people who need these services continue to vote for those who would and have quite happily cut them back or eliminated them all together.”

He said eliminating the need to wait lengthy periods of time and/or not forcing residents to Adelaide also had positive effects on local businesses who continually lose out when locals shop and dine out of the area. 

“It is also time consuming and expensive to make the trip, especially so for our older population,” he said.

”The Greens have been particularly vexed when health and education get the chop while corporate interests and multi-nationals don’t contribute to the tax base fairly.”

SURVEY

Next week, The Times will put the final questions to each candidate to gauge where they and their party stand on local issues. The questions have been based on responses to a survey shared on The Times’ website. To share a question, please complete the survey or email it to victortimes@fairfaxmedia.com.au