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Greens question 'voluntary' health checks as parents face payment cuts

The Australian Greens says the government needs to get its message straight on child health checks, with families facing the prospect of losing over $700 a child from family tax benefit supplements unless their children attend so-called 'voluntary' health checks.

"Part of the new mental health budget measures includes funding for 3 year old child health checks which the Minister for Mental Health last night claimed were not compulsory," Senator Rachel Siewert, Australian Greens health spokesperson said today.

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Alcohol Pricing

Senator SIEWERT (Western Australia—Australian Greens Whip) (11:57):  I move:
That the Senate—
 (a) notes with concern decisions by major retailers to heavily discount alcohol as a 'loss leader' to increase market share, with beer and wine being sold below the wholesale price so that it is now often cheaper than bottled water;
 (b) draws attention to research that demonstrates that young people, disadvantaged groups and risky drinkers are highly sensitive to the price of alcohol;

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Indigenous investment sorely missing from budget

The lack of significant new funding or initiatives for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in the federal budget serves as an unhappy reminder of the lingering gap between the Government’s promises and action on Indigenous issues, according to the Australian Greens.

“Wayne Swan could not find any time in his budget speech to mention any Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander programs, which is a very disappointing state of affairs,” Senator Rachel Siewert said today.

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First dental steps promising – Greens

Rachel Siewert 10 May 2011

The Australian Greens say the first steps have been taken towards a national dental care scheme, with the Government making an initial commitment in tonight’s budget.

“This $53 million down payment on national dental care is a promising start to what will be a significant change to Australia’s health care system,” Australian Greens health spokesperson Senator Rachel Siewert said tonight.

“This $53 million investment will benefit low income earners in the public health system.

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Greens seek renewed action on junk food advertising

Rachel Siewert 9 May 2011

The Australian Greens have welcomed research released today by the Obesity Policy Coalition and are supporting calls for legislation to protect children from unhealthy food advertising and promotion.

Australian Greens health spokesperson, Senator Rachel Siewert says the Government and Coalition wasted an opportunity earlier this year when Greens legislation consistent with the measures being advocated by the Obesity Policy Coalition was blocked by both major parties.

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Denticare's first steps must be included in budget: Greens

Rachel Siewert 7 May 2011

The Australian Greens continue to push for action on dental care to be included in Tuesday's budget.

"We need to see some action from the Government as a down-payment on their committment to improve Australia's dental health," Senator Rachel Siewert, Australian Greens health spokesperson said today.

"This was a key part of our post-election agreement with the ALP," said Senator Siewert.

"Improved national dental care has the capacity to dramatically improve the health of millions of Australians, and we've been working hard towards that outcome.

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One-sided approach will not fix problem drinking in the Territory

The Australian Greens are concerned that newly passed alcohol laws in the Northern Territory focus on only one side of the problem – by getting tough on drinkers while ignoring the rivers of cheap grog that flow through the NT.

“I am wary of focusing too much on drinkers and not enough on restricting supply,” Senator Rachel Siewert, Australian Greens spokesperson on Aboriginal Issues said today.

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Greens call for PBS reform as patients bear the cost of cabinet decisions

Rachel Siewert 5 May 2011

Senator Rachel Siewert, Australian Greens health spokesperson has used an address to the Future of the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme conference to put the case for reform of the PBS system.

“It is clear to me that we need a better structure for reform of the PBS system rather the current ad hoc approach. There have been a number of changes in recent years and recent announcements from the Government have smacked of desperation,” Senator Siewert said.

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Short-sighted PBS deferral will hurt patients

Rachel Siewert 29 Apr 2011

The Australian Greens have called on the Government to reconsider the decision to defer the listing of several new drugs on the PBS despite the recommendation of the Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee.

“This is an unprecedented move and I urge Health Minister Nicola Roxon to reconsider her position,” Senator Rachel Siewert, Australian Greens health spokesperson said today.

“This will have significant implications for Australians trying to access these medicines.

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Abbott fails to learn from Territory visit

Tony Abbott has failed to learn about the underlying issues facing the Northern Territory as he continues to pursue ineffective, hard-line measures on issues such as alcohol abuse and education, according to the Australian Greens.

Senator Rachel Siewert, Australian Greens spokesperson on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Issues said that Mr Abbott’s comments highlight the fact that he has missed the point of his visit to the NT. 

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