Mr HUSIC (Chifley) (10:01): I wanted to speak in relation to the provision of healthcare services for Aboriginal communities residing within the Chifley electorate. Earlier this year there were a series of changes being made to the funding arrangements of the then Aboriginal Medical Service Western Sydney. I was, in particular, concerned with a number of things about the way in which that was managed. Specifically, I wanted to ensure that in any transition in those arrangements there was uninterrupted service and that the front-line health services and the people providing them would be maintained and not lose their jobs. I also wanted to ensure that there was effective consultation with Aboriginal communities that reside within Chifley. We are proud within the Chifley electorate to reside within Dharug lands and thank our custodians past and present for their custodianship.
We called on the government—and I was joined in this by the member for Lingiari—to maintain an open approach to the way in which they managed this issue. I note the presence of the health minister here. I want to, if I may, extend to her my deepest gratitude for the fact that this was an approach where both sides of politics were committed to working towards the maintenance of health services for Aboriginal communities in our area. I have to commend the minister for the way that she, her staff and also the assistant minister worked cooperatively to ensure that this was never an issue of funding cuts, but, rather, it was an issue to try and improve the way health services were delivered to communities in our area. I am happy to say that on 26 November, through the auspices of WentWest and other people who have been committed to this process, including the New South Wales government, the Sydney West Aboriginal Health Service was opened and available. It is providing primary care GP services, child and family services, dental services, drug and alcohol services, mental health services and other services for patients with chronic conditions. I wish it every success and congratulate the government on its willingness to work with us in maintaining this service in this area.
In contrast to that, a few weeks ago I wrote to the Deputy Prime Minister complaining about the way in which community consultation was being mismanaged around the creation of the second airport in Sydney’s west. The member for Greenway and I jointly wrote to him. He refused to consult with me or my office, and his office refused to consult on this. In fact, they talk with anyone rather than working with us on this. I think I have a track record, as evidenced earlier, in my commitment of working with the government on areas where we believe that there can be cooperation. But the Deputy Prime Minister has singularly failed to work effectively with us. In particular, I raise my objections as an individual member of parliament about his mismanagement of consultation and call on him to improve the way he works.