22 Jun PATIENTS LEFT LANGUISHING AS SEQ OLYMPICS SCORES
Katter’s Australian Party MPs have slammed the Palaszczuk Labor Government’s “callous” decision to pour regional coal royalties into funding their Brisbane Olympics dream instead of adequately addressing the deficits of the Patient Travel Subsidy Scheme (PTSS).
The State Government claimed last week that coal royalties, worth $15.3 billion in the last financial year, had funded an increase into the PTSS.
But the hikes are inconsequential according to KAP, with the rural and regional party having long called for a doubling of all payment rates under the scheme.
This would have resulted in subsidies of $120 for an overnight stay and 60 cents per kilometre travelled for rural and regional Queenslanders forced to seek vital medical treatment away from their homes.
Mr Katter said Labor’s lacklustre increases, to $70 (from $60) for overnight stays and 34 cents (from 30 cents) for kilometric travel, were shameful and a slap in the face.
“Here we have a State Government posting the highest budget surplus in Australian history, drawn directly from coal royalties, and the best they can do is throw people an extra $10,” he said.
“This scheme is meant to be consolation for the fact that rural and regional Queenslanders can’t access the care they need in their home towns – it is non-negotiable that it be substantial and fit for purpose.
“I note that in the Budget, $1.9 billion was promised to the Olympics through to 2026-27, but by comparison the PTSS has only secured an additional $70 million.”
KAP Deputy Leader and Hinchinbrook MP Nick Dametto said calls to double the PTSS rates have fallen on deaf ears demonstrating how out of touch the State Labor Government is with regional and rural Queenslanders.
“With an aging community and a hospital that is in desperate need of funding, many patients in Ingham are required to travel to Townsville or Brisbane for specialist medical care,” he said.
“The measly increase of 4 cents per kilometre is like breadcrumbs and hardly worth mentioning as a State Budget highlight to target the health care system’s pressures.
“The increases we see in the PTSS will do very little to cover the costs associated with traveling for medical care as costs have increased significantly for fuel, accommodation, food, vehicle maintenance.”