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Wear Sunscreen: preparing public health services for the impacts of climate change

Thank you, Madam Speaker.

I am thankful for the opportunity to briefly speak to Mr Davis’ motion.

As I have reiterated many times in this chamber, we are blessed to be living in such a wonderful city of natural beauty and vibrant landscapes – both the land and all its inhabitants. It only makes sense that the ACT should be a role model for outstanding governance and bring access to the best of everything. When it comes to public health services in the ACT, we should be world-class when it comes to the provision of quality health care: minimal wait times for procedures, both elective and non-elective, an emergency department that is fully resourced to operate quickly and efficiently, and start-of-the-art health facilities that draw all our best health professionals to work in this city.

But this is not the case, and has not been the case for a very long time, under this Labor-Greens Government.

I and the rest of my Canberra Liberal colleagues have been calling on the ACT Government for years to ensure that public health services in general are prepared for the impacts of a growing population in Canberra. We have been calling on the ACT Government for years, asking for better data collection that will inform continuing improvements to our healthcare system. Contrary to our calls, perhaps Mr Davis’ motion will be most heartily received and supported, and even fully implemented.

If I could offer you only one tip for the future, sunscreen would be it.[1] As we approach the summer season, it is important that we prepare for the hotter weather and harsher sun. Well over 1000 Australians die from skin cancer every year, and in 2020, melanoma of the skin was the tenth most common cause of cancer death in Australia.

And so I would like to take the opportunity to offer my usual personal, but standard advice for the upcoming season: check your skin regularly for spots and moles, put on your hat and sunnies, and wear sunscreen.

To the government, I have this to say: it is critical that Canberrans have better access to cancer care. This is something that I have repeatedly advocated for in recent times, particularly following issues and concerns of patient transfers to the Canberra Region Cancer Centre from the Zita Mary Clinic at the Calvary Public Hospital Bruce for cytotoxic and chemotherapy treatments. This was found to be primarily due to the latter hospital not being able to meet accreditation standards of governance for oncology and haematology services.[2]

This is not good enough, and I will continue to advocate for improved access to quality cancer care in the ACT – particularly for our northside residents. I will be keeping a close eye on the ACT Health Services plan, particularly when it comes to consideration of better access to chemotherapy services, including medical support and comprehensive care for cancer patients in the ACT. This is just one of the many areas that are failing under this Labor-Greens government when it comes to providing quality healthcare to Canberrans, and we must do better.

Thank you.

[1] Quote from ‘Everybody’s Free (to wear Sunscreen)’ by Baz Luhrmann, based on essay by Mary Schmich. [2] Estimates Hearings 2022–23, QON No. 128.


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