Thursday 11 February, 2016

Mr TARZIA (Hartley) (12:41): I also rise today to support the motion:

That this house—

(a) notes that more than 119,000 people have signed petitions opposing the closure of the Repat General Hospital, more than 88,000 of which have been tabled in this house; and

(b) urges the government to heed the call of the petitioners and the veterans on the steps by reversing its decision to close the Repat.

As we have heard this morning from the arrogance of one of the government ministers, this government has, quite frankly, more front than John Martins. It is absolutely disgraceful.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER: There is no such thing.

Mr TARZIA: It is absolutely disgraceful that 119,000 people—yes, I do remember John Martins, Deputy Speaker—119,000 people—

The DEPUTY SPEAKER: Order! I did not ask you to recall John Martins.

The Hon. T.R. Kenyon: I just told you it doesn't exist anymore.

Mr TARZIA: It doesn't exist anymore, member for Newland—

The DEPUTY SPEAKER: Order! I am on my feet.

Mr TARZIA: —and neither does the credibility of the state government.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER: Now I know the Speaker is listening, and he is going to be heartily disappointed in the behaviour here. Standing order 131 means no-one speaks over the top of anyone else. I would remind members that we do need to listen to the member for Hartley's contribution.

Mr TARZIA: My part in this was small; however, I managed to gather probably just over 1,000 signatures in my time by going out into my community and talking to people, talking to the veterans and their families, and engaging their thoughts on this matter. I did this at the Glynde RSL, the Magill RSL, the Kensington Park RSL and the Payneham RSL; and it was quite clear very early in our campaign that this was a huge issue, not only at Daw Park and in the vicinity of that area, but across the state, because for many families, past and present, this is more than just a hospital. Even I had a relative who was treated at this hospital, and so many South Australians have been treated at this hospital not only after their time at war, but are also being treated for other conditions. It is certainly more than a hospital.

What this government is doing is ripping the soul out of South Australians. This government has no credibility when it stands here and says that it is now going to demolish the Repat—sell the Repat—after saying to the people of South Australia before the election that it was not going to do so. It has absolutely no credibility and it is an absolute disgrace.

Given the choice to stand with the veterans or stand with the Labor government, I stand with the veterans. I have no doubt that, if the state government follows through on this disgraceful plan to demolish this site, it will come back to bite them hard. I stand with the veterans of this state, I stand with the families of the veterans of this state and I stand with the other over 100,000 people who signed this petition. It is the height of arrogance for this government to ignore such a large pool of people in this state on any matter, let alone this one.

Twelve months ago, as part of what have certainly been controversial health cut plans, the state Labor government announced that the iconic Repat Hospital would be closed, in addition to three emergency departments being downgraded and cuts being made to metropolitan hospitals. The government must start honouring its promises.

We know that the closure of the Repat would see, amongst other things, the loss of what is significant expertise not only in veterans' health but also in ageing health. I know a number of people who have, for example, diabetes treatment at that hospital. In terms of the delivery of post-traumatic stress disorder services in Ward 17, the current plan of the government to rebuild Ward 17 at Glenside is certainly a downgrade of the services that are currently offered.

We know that 90 per cent of Repat patients are community patients, just like my uncle, just like some of the families of veterans—people who choose to go to the site. The closure of the Repat would certainly have negative serious and long-term impacts for the health of the community. What we need are more beds, not fewer beds. What we need is for health service professionals to be treated better, not worse. What we need is more funding, not less. What we need is a government that takes these matters seriously.

The new Royal Adelaide Hospital, as my colleague alluded to earlier, has been riddled with problems before the doors are even open—computer glitches, staffing issues and so on. Nurses are being approached at the current Royal Adelaide Hospital and are being asked to work ridiculous hours, longer than they otherwise should. The unions know this; the nurses know this; it is common knowledge.

It is all because of Transforming Health. What is this monster called Transforming Health? The member for Waite, I believe, in an earlier radio interview made the admission that this is not about efficiency in health services: it is about money. All this is about is money for this government. They will go to whatever lengths it takes to cut hospitals.

No hospital is safe under this government; that has been shown now. How can you trust a government that says it is not going to shut down the Repat and then does? It is absolutely disgraceful. There have been no announcements on the future location of various Repat specialist services. Take, for example, orthopaedics, ophthalmology, urology, rheumatology as well as sleep disorders, respirology and diabetes.

Closing the Repat would actually mean abandoning over $40 million—$46 million, in fact—of capital works at the hospital in the last 13 years. It is absolutely ludicrous that a building would have $46 million of capital works added to it and then you would close it down after 13 years. We know that the Australian Medical Association's recent public hospital report card showed that South Australia is 10 per cent worse than the national average on the key indicators of emergency department waiting times. I commend the motion to the house and I ask the government to reverse this disgraceful decision to close the Repat Hospital.