Mr HUSIC (Chifley—Government Whip) (10:58): One of the priorities I have had since being given the honour of being elected as the member for Chifley is to apply myself to ensure that I can do whatever I can to boost the quality and availability of healthcare resources in our area. We have a terrific hospital, Mount Druitt Hospital, that this year celebrates its 30th anniversary. During that time it has managed, particularly in recent years, to score amongst the highest in terms of satisfaction of patients with their treatment and quality of care. But we can always do better.
A few years ago my predecessor and friend, the Hon. Roger Price, along with the state member for Mount Druitt, Richard Amery, kicked off a campaign to secure a licence for a magnetic resonance imaging machine to be situated at Mount Druitt Hospital. The reason was that we have large areas where people are unable or it is a big trial for them to get to Blacktown or Nepean hospitals to access MRI machines, and we wanted to make it as easy as possible for them to get effective imaging and diagnostic assistance. I have raised this matter at the federal level with the previous minister for health, the Hon. Nicola Roxon, and with her successor, Tanya Plibersek.
For me and for many others getting an MRI is important on a number of levels. Firstly, it provides improved health services for residents and it is a lot more accessible, particularly in an area where the proportion of people holding a drivers licence is lower than the rest of Sydney. People rely on public transport, which is not always available, so being able to get to Mt Druitt Hospital is very important. There are fewer trips, obviously, to Nepean and Blacktown hospitals. Also, MRI provides for better diagnostics and is safer than other forms of imaging.
Community sentiment on this issue is strong. I have distributed to households in the 2770 postcode area 20,000 petitions. Already in the first week I have received nearly 500 responses. The state member, Richard Amery, and I intend to keep our focus on getting this resource for our area and we welcome the support received so far. I also want to reflect on a fantastic function I went to on Saturday night at Blacktown’s Bowman Hall. The Sub-Continent Friends of Labor held a function attracting 600 people with an Indian background, including Fijian Indians, and Pakistani, Bangladeshi, Nepalese and Sri Lankan backgrounds. They were there to celebrate and to hear from Senator Bob Carr, the Minister for Foreign Affairs. I want to thank Harish Velji and all those who make up the committee, Ejaz Khan, Balaji Venketraranghan, Amarinder Bajwa, Parvez Khan, Balraj Sangha, Aisha Amjad, Jay Hosur, Surnar Shah, Prabajot Sandhu, Varuni Bala and Moninder Singh for all their efforts.