Speech to Parliament: Eastgardens Medicare Closure

Last week, the Minister for Human Services contacted my office to let me know that our local Medicare office at Eastgardens would no longer be open to deliver services to the public on Saturdays.

The reason they gave was that the office was quiet and was not well patronised on a Saturday, so last Saturday I visited the Medicare office at Eastgardens and this is what I saw: a line out the door at 10.30 in the morning of people waiting to receive healthcare services.

I spoke to many community members and asked their views on the closure of the Medicare office on Saturdays, and to say that they were angry—that they saw the decision as unjustified and that it proves how out of touch this Abbott government is when it comes to the delivery of health services—is an understatement.

'I work all week. How am I going to get to a Medicare office under these circumstances?' was a common refrain that I saw from members of the public. Where are members of my community supposed to go to receive Medicare services when they work all week?

I met a family who were there to change the name on their Medicare card. I looked up on the Medicare website whether you could do this online. The Medicare website says, 'Changes to your Medicare card details must be done in person at your local Medicare office.'

How are members of our community going to do that when they work during the week? I call on the Abbott government to reverse this disgraceful decision to cut off healthcare services for my community.

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