Grim diagnosis for a dental system in distress
KAP Federal Leader and Member for Kennedy Bob Katter today pleaded with Government to invest significant funding in dental care in rural and regional Australia following horror stories from desperate North Queenslanders, some who have been forced to pull their own teeth out with pliers.
“The primary responsibility of Government is to protect people and we are failing miserably in dental care,” he said.
Mr Katter today addressed the Parliament on the Dental Benefit Legislation Amendment Bill 2013 which relates to audit and debt procedures under previous and current dental laws.
“This is a sad day indeed for Australia where we are wasting the time of Parliament talking about audit requirements.
"Quite frankly the dentists I have spoken to have agreed that there should be an audit requirement and there should already be an accounting oversight system in place,” Mr Katter said.
“We should be focusing on the fact that in this great wealthy country,there are people that are being forced to rely on the most primitive methods of medical treatment and with no painkillers or any dental assistance to remove their own teeth.
“In a round of community meetings a bloke in Babinda said he had waited for two years in agonising pain on the dental waiting list.
"He eventually pulled the tooth out himself with a pair of pliers. Similarly in Richmond another person pulled his teeth out with a pair of pliers,” Mr Katter said.
“Now this is simply outrageous in a country as rich and as great as Australia.'
Mr Katter told Parliament there is an urgent and desperate need for dentists and dental health workers in rural and regional Australia, particularly in his homeland – Mid-West Queensland (between Mount Isa and Townsville).
“I have lived in Mid-West Queensland my entire life and five generations before me. The four main towns are Cloncurry, Richmond, Julia Creek and Hughenden and there would be close to 10,000 people living in this area. Throughout my life, I can never remember having fewer than three dentists.
“Over the last decade we have seen a significant reduction in dentists in the region, with people from these towns being forced to drive to Mount Isa, Townsville or Charters Towers.
“People from Julia Creek are forced to drive a 400-600 kilometre round trip to Mount Isa to see a dentist.
"People living in Hughenden have to drive to Charters Towers – a 500-600 kilometre round trip.
“The costs of doing this and the ability to do this if you have a job – are exuberantly high.
“In my home town of Charters Towers, the last time I attempted to make an appointment there was a three-month wait. If the dentist didn’t stay back after hours – I might have been running around with pliers to pull my own teeth out,” Mr Katter said.
In 2012 Mr Katter voted for a failed legislative bid to retain the Medicare Chronic Disease Dental Scheme, which was established under the former LNP Federal Government.