Ms TIERNEY (Western Victoria)– On 23 July the Hamilton Spectator devoted its entire front page to an issue that the Hamilton and surrounding community are deeply passionate about — that is, the National Centre for Farmer Health. The Minister for Health, David Davis, has continually ignored the Labor opposition, the local and state media and, above all, the Hamilton community in the hope that this issue will go away. I can assure him that it will not. The Hamilton Spectator’s front page includes quotes from philanthropist and donator to the centre, Mr Geoff Handbury, AO, as he aired his extreme disappointment with what has unfolded since the Liberal-National parties came to power. Mr Handbury said the centre:
“… is clearly being used as a political football and it is childish.”
His sentiments are shared by the entire farming community, which saw the extremely successful sustainable farming families program run for the last time in Cavendish last month. Meanwhile the Canadian government has funded a number of delegates to visit Hamilton with the intent of adopting the National Centre for Farmer Health’s successful methods in Canada. As was the case this time last year, a petition supporting the immediate reinstatement of funding for the centre was available for the community to sign at my stall at Sheepvention earlier this month, and again the response was overwhelming. The community’s frustration with this government is clear, and those who came to the stall spoke with one clear voice. The people see this government as vindictive and mean spirited with respect to the National Centre for Farmer Health, and it really does beg the question if the — —
The PRESIDENT — Order! The member’s time has expired.