Wednesday, July 6, 2022

Mr X only Senate candidate to campaign in our towns

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Chris Oldfield, Naracoorte Community News

People in the South East have to travel round trips of up to 1000kms to get treatment for blood cancer, and Senate hopeful Nick Xenophon wants to change that.

He wants the region to have its own haematologist.

Nick Xenophon campaigning
Among the many people Senate hopeful Nick Xenophon (centre) met while campaigning in the South East during April was Kingcraig Medical Clinic’s Dr Tony Cohen (left) and Dr Jeffrey Taylor (right). Photo courtesy Naracoorte Community News.

As health funding comes from Canberra, Mr Xenophon also wants SA Health bureaucrats called to account for over spending millions of taxpayer funds state-wide on hiring locum doctors, not local GPs.

And with a spotlight on health funding coming out of Canberra, he wants to know why the Keith Hospital has still not been funded properly.

“South East people are not second-rate citizens, they deserve to be respected, and they deserve doctors,” said Mr Xenophon during his trip to Naracoorte during the last week of April.

“Not to have a haematologist here in the South East is just – it’s just unfathomable.

“For an elderly person – or any person – with blood cancer to be forced to get on a bus to Adelaide or Warrnambool to see a haematologist while they are very sick, navigate their way to the specialist, then find and pay for accommodation, then get back on a bus for up to 450kms (to return home)– well it’s a disgrace.”

Mr Xenophon said nearly everyone knew a relative, friend, neighbour or someone who had been affected by leukemia or blood cancer.

“There is no reason why this region can’t have its own haematologist,” Mr Xenophon said.

“Our rural towns and communities need GPs, and they deserve access to specialists like haematologists.”

While the Patient Assisted Transport Scheme (PATS) was good on paper, “it just is not adequate” and patients were being left out of pocket as well as sick.

“The best choice all round is for people to be treated here,” said Mr Xenophon, explaining a raft of problems with the scheme.

During April, Mr Xenophon was the only high-profile Senate candidate to visit and meet with people at Keith, Naracoorte, Penola, Millicent, Robe and Kingston, as well as Mount Gambier.

While in the region he spent time talking to various doctors and health professionals, farmers, vignerons, timber industry leaders and small business owners, among others including several in the hospitality industry.

Mr Xenophon left the South East concerned about health and mental health needs, a void for drug rehabilitation and the need to support manufacturing opportunities.

He was also dismayed by the lack of mobile phone services in various areas of the region, and the condition of several roads, particularly the Princes Highway.

“From Kingston to Meningie they should rename the Princes Highway the Paupers Highway,” Mr Xenophon said.

“It is meant to be the number one highway around Australia, and instead of fixing it, they have just reduced the speed limit. It’s a disgrace.”

Additionally, like the Riddoch Highway, it was in need of overpassing lanes.

Mr Xenophon was a No Pokies independent member of the SA Legislative Council from 1997-2007.

Entering federal parliament as an Independent Senator in 2008, he resigned in 2017 in a failed bid to establish SA Best as a major SA political party.

“I really like helping people, ordinary people and communities who don’t have a voice,” he said.

“My job as a Senator is to represent the people of the state and get the best possible outcome for people across the state – not to represent a political party, but to represent the people.

“I make no apology for the fact that what I’ve done in the Senate before, and what I’ll do again if I get it, is that whenever there is an opportunity, I will negotiate with the government of the day, to get the best deal I can for a community.

“I did it before, and I will do it again – especially on health and mental health.

“I just cannot tell you how important mental health services are, especially for young people.”

Mr Xenophon said it would be difficult to get elected on May 21 because he had left his decision to run so late.

Additionally, he was not mentioned above the line on the Senate voting slip, and people would have to search and vote below the line to find his name on the paper.

Regarding mental health issues, if you, or anyone you know is affected by mental health matters, please contact your local GP, Lifeline 16911, Beyond Blue 1300 22 4636, Headspace 03 9027 0100, or Kids Helpline 1800 55 1800.

Polling booths are open in the Naracoorte Town Hall this week for people unable to vote on Saturday, May 21.

Naracoorte Community News 18 May 2022

This article appeared in the Naracoorte Community News.

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