HEALTHCARE FIRST: United Workers Union Delegate Melanie Alderton with Labor candidate for Southern Downs Joel Richters and Dental Assistants from Warwick Hospital.
HEALTHCARE FIRST: United Workers Union Delegate Melanie Alderton with Labor candidate for Southern Downs Joel Richters and Dental Assistants from Warwick Hospital.

Candidates launch fiery debate over Warwick healthcare

SOUTHERN Downs electoral candidates have set their sights on healthcare as union fears grow over hospital budget cuts and outsourcing.

Speaking outside the Warwick Hospital on Thursday with Labor candidate Joel Richters, the United Workers Union urged residents to use their vote to keep Warwick healthcare workers employed.

UWU Member and Warwick health worker Micheala Pratt said the COVID-19 crisis had shone a spotlight on the sector which could stop history from repeating itself.

“Now, more than ever, we need certainty about our jobs to ensure we can continue to keep locals safe and healthy.” Ms Pratt said.

“Frontline health workers remember all too well the impacts of cuts and outsourcing under the Newman Government. We can’t afford to risk that again.

“That’s why this election we’re backing candidates who put Queenslanders first, protecting our health and our jobs.

“In the Southern Downs, Joel Richters has committed to keeping our public services in public hands where they belong and to working hard for our community.”

Promising to protect frontline jobs, MR Richters said the LNP had “refused” to elaborate on how they would fund a budget surplus if they came into power following the October election.

“The LNP member needs to be honest with the people of Southern Downs and tell us what health jobs they will cut from our hospitals to fund their $24 billion in unfunded election commitments,” he said.

“When Deb Frecklington was Campbell Newman’s Assistant Minister, she sacked 4,400 health staff in Queensland.

“It is because of our strong health response on the Southern Downs that we have been able to get on with Queensland’s plan for economic recovery. The LNP would put all that in jeopardy.”

Yet LNP candidate and current Member for Southern Downs James Lister told a different story.

Mr Lister said the LNP had no plans to produce a budget surplus “anytime soon”, choosing to focus on borrowing money for infrastructure and in turn, jobs.

He also strongly refuted Mr Richters’ statement against opposition leader Deb Frecklington.

“Deb Frecklington didn’t sack anyone. The LNP have matched Labor’s promise by Treasurer Mr Dick that there will be no forced redundancies in the public service, including health employees, and I stand by that,” Mr Lister said.

“LNP governments do health really well, and we will deliver real results for patients with the same no-forced-redundancies commitment as Labor’s Treasurer Mr Dick gave. When my LNP predecessor Lawrence Springborg was our state’s health Minister, he made sure patients got treated on time, the budget was in the black, and we didn’t have dozens of ambulances and their crews queuing up at hospital emergency departments waiting for treatment.

“Honestly, that’s the only fair dinkum measure of success – patients getting their treatment on time.”

Pauline Hanson’s One Nation candidate Rosemary Moulden was also contacted for comment but failed to meet the Warwick Daily News’ deadline.

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