October 18, 2023

We live in turbulent times and I want my constituents to know I'm keenly aware of the pressures that they and their families are confronting, and that the government's No. 1 priority is addressing the inflation and cost-of-living challenges we are facing. 

We're delivering a comprehensive $23 billion package to help with the cost-of-living pressures, including electricity bill relief, cheaper child care, increased rent assistance, fee-free TAFE, building more affordable housing and more social housing and expanding paid parental leave. These measures are all helping the people of Shortland, who I have the privilege to represent in this place. 

We're tripling the bulk-billing incentive to GPs for more than 76,000 people living in the Shortland electorate, making it easier for them to see a bulk-billing doctor. From 1 September 2023, we have halved the cost of more than 300 common medicines on the PBS, which will mean more than 43,000 people in Shortland will be able to get 60 days worth of medicine for the price of a single script. I've spoken many times of the Hunter region's much-valued GP Access After Hours service. My constituents tell me time and time again that, after the cost of living, access to healthcare services is their No. 1 priority. They were rightly angry that the Liberals made the decision to drastically cut funding to GP access and, in fact, had long-term plans to destroy and terminate that service. I'm proud to be part of an Albanese Labor government that has delivered on its commitment to return this funding in full, as well as providing funding security in the future. Recently the hours at Belmont Hospital's GP access clinic were fully restored. I know this will be much welcomed and well used by my constituents. I, like every other Hunter family, have used this service, and it's incredibly valuable. I was also very proud to be part of the announcement of the Medicare urgent care clinic for the northern Central Coast, which will be located in Lake Haven and will soon start operating, providing bulk-billing services seven days a week for families of our region. 

There is a lot happening here and around the world—the referendum on the weekend, the conflict in the Middle East and the ongoing war in Ukraine. To my constituents who may be feeling overwhelmed: I want you to know that I and the government have a laser-like focus on the issues that matter to you. We are implementing policies that will help with the cost-of-living issues that we're all dealing with. 

I'd like to end my contribution by briefly recognising a local band, Strings and Fings, who, after a three-year absence because of the pandemic, have recently returned to the Whiddon Gardens nursing home to entertain its residents. I thank my friend Jack Adams for letting me know about this much-anticipated return and wish him and the band well in spreading the joy that they do.