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Elferink’s “Seniors” comments shocking
Elferink’s “Seniors” comments shocking

20 August 2015 - Opposition Health Minister, Lynne Walker, today expressed shock and condemned comments from CLP Health Minister, John Elferink, that money spent on caring for older and sick Territorians should be redirected to children.


“This is just wrong. The CLP Health Minister has today launched an attack on some of our most vulnerable and most respected members of our community,” Ms Walker said.


“Mr Elferink’s suggestion, as we celebrate Senior’s Month, goes against the Hippocratic Oath undertaken by our doctors, the absolute dedication of our nurses and the enormous goodwill and commitment of every single person working, in our public health system,” Ms Walker said.


"The fact is we've pretty much reached the limit of how old we can grow as a species. And yet we pour huge effort and resources into the last year of a person's life. If we are doing that, we are doing that at the expense of some other point in the medical system."

 -Northern Territory Health Minister, John Elferink, ABC News, 20 August 2015


"Think of the work that could be achieved ... in the first year of life with a million dollars. You could probably touch hundreds of kids with that sort of money.

-Northern Territory Health Minister, John Elferink, ABC News, 20 August 2015


"I suspect if you spoke to somebody who ... for argument's sake, had end-stage renal failure and said: 'We can continue treatment but by discontinuing treatment your grandchildren would have a better opportunity'.”Many of those old people would say 'Yeah I accept that'."

-Northern Territory Health Minister, John Elferink, ABC News, 20 August 2015


 “The Minister could fund care for the elderly by cutting some of the waste his government produces – such as extensive overseas luxury travel and failed alcohol mandatory treatment policies just to name two.


“A decent society looks after all its citizens, not sacrifices one part of our community for the sake of the other.


“This is not and never will be the Labor way.”



Media Contact:          Gino Luglietti - 0401 119 794


Opposition Health Minister Lynne Walker has called on Chief Minister Adam Giles to reveal which Territory communities will benefit from $10 million in Federal funds for renal dialysis services.

“I am happy to see Adam Giles finally recognising this funding committed by the previous Labor Government should be spent out bush rather than in larger towns,” Ms Walker said.

“But he still won’t say where the funding will be spent and Health Minister John Elferink is completely silent on the issue.

“Community Services Minister Bess Price had said water supplies on remote communities weren’t good enough to support dialysis, but she seems to have finally read her brief on this and changed her mind.

“There has been an enormous amount of delay and confusion around this funding which is desperately needed to improve dialysis services in patient’s home communities.

“The CLP Government has dragged its heels for nearly three years on accepting this money and only last month it was revealed in Senate Estimates that NT had put up a last minute proposal to use the money to accommodate patients to come into towns like Alice Springs to receive treatment.

“Meanwhile we have renal patients living rough because they can’t get accommodation in town and there aren’t nearly enough dialysis services out bush.”

Ms Walker said providers such as Western Desert Dialysis had developed clear proposals on where the money could be most effectively spent to provide new services.

“The CLP Government has already had to return $3 million to the Commonwealth from the original commitment of $13 million.

“Adam Giles needs to reveal whether the NT Government is supporting the proposal by providers that would see dialysis in seven new sites and an extension of services in two communities.

“Or is there a whole other scenario that is being looked at that will result in even more delays with this desperately needed funding?”

Media contact: Louise Connor 0438 241 211



Natasha Fyles said today it was inconceivable that CLP Senator Nigel Scullion has cut funding from a volatile substance and alcohol and drug outreach service, putting young people at further risk, and the NT Government is missing in action.

“The Inhalants, Volatile Substances and Drug and Alcohol Town Community Program delivered by Amity Community Services, will cease from 30 June due to a $480,000 funding cut.  

“This program provides an on-the-ground outreach support service to young people already engaged in or at risk of volatile substance misuse.”

“This is a key frontline service working hard to direct disadvantaged young people into treatment services and to get them re-engaged with their families, school or employment.

“This cut will see young people sniffing volatile substances fall through the cracks, risking their ongoing health and potentially their lives,” Ms Fyles said.

The program works with police, youth service providers and retailers to manage underlying volatile substance use and respond to sporadic increases in sniffing, including training retail staff on their rights and responsibilities in the sale of volatile substances.

The service also supports young people and adults with drug and alcohol problems living in Indigenous town communities, and was developed in response to the need to better ensure clients accessed support services.

This funding cut comes despite Nigel Scullion stating organisations funded under the Indigenous Advancement Strategy would be knocked back if they couldn’t demonstrate their programs have tangibly improved the lives of Aboriginal Australians.

The program employs four staff, including two Indigenous officers, now facing loss of employment.

“I call on Chief Minister Adam Giles to seek an urgent review of this decision,” Ms Fyles said.

Media contact: Louise Connor 0438 241 211


The chaos and dysfunction in the Giles CLP Government is having a serious impact on the health of Territorians, Shadow Minister for Health Lynne Walker said today.

Ms Walker said the failure of the CLP Government to meet critical deadlines in Federal funding agreements meant vital health infrastructure was delayed and millions of dollars was being put at risk.

“The CLP is too concerned about turmoil in its own ranks to get on with the job of governing the Territory,” Ms Walker said.

“The recent revelations about the delays in constructing remote area health clinics, on top of the bungling over the Palmerston Hospital, show the CLP is failing to deliver for Territorians.

“The Government refuses to admit problems, despite the completion of only one of 11 remote area clinic builds and upgrades.

“These aren’t even CLP projects. The $50 million package was first announced under the previous Labor Government in 2011 and the CLP only managed to get around to signing off on the project agreement in August last year.

“Construction of Ngukurr health clinic was originally due to start in 2013 but still hasn’t commenced while the Canteen Creek clinic upgrade was announced  in May 2011 but the tender only released in November last year.

“Under Labor we saw upgrades to the ED departments at Alice Springs, Royal Darwin and Tennant Creek.

“The CLP failed to deliver a promised $13 million upgrade to the 30 year old Gove ED unit and, shamefully, returned to the Commonwealth $5 million to build a 12 bed medi-hostel at Gove Hospital for remote patients saying it “wasn’t needed”.

“They are still dithering over the $10 million available since 2013 to support dialysis patients with confusion over whether this funding will be spent on putting more services in towns or delivering dialysis in the bush.

“A recent audit report found that last year the CLP Government couldn’t meet agreed milestones and lost an expected $2.5 million in Commonwealth funding earmarked for the Top End Hospitals Networks.

“Territorians continue to suffer and the CLP continues to fail us.”

              Media contact: Louise Connor 0438 241 211


Shadow Minister for Public Employment, Lynne Walker, today called on the CLP Government to end the enterprise bargaining dispute with the Territory’s Paramedics and Fire-fighters.


“The ongoing saga in the never-ending EBA disputes between Fire-fighters and Paramedics and the NT Government doesn’t reflect the community goodwill for these officers who do a difficult job for the community.”


“This is all about John Elferink - who has described Fire-fighters as ‘self-interested’ and ‘greedy’ - not losing face, instead of negotiating fair wages and conditions for people who put their lives on the line to help the public.”


“It has become about ego, not outcome, for the CLP,” Ms Walker said.


“The Fire-fighters have accepted the Government’s offer of 3 percent as a sign of good faith, but the CLP are refusing back pay even though other public sector agreements include back pay.”


“It is clear that the Paramedics and St John management will not be reaching a deal anytime soon. The CLP Government funds St John $100 million to supply an ambulance service to the Territory and should be doing more to resolve the situation.”


“John Elferink should swallow his pride and work for an outcome, not his ego.”


“These hardworking Territorians at the frontline of emergency services deserve better.”


Ms Walker met with Unions, Fire-fighters, Paramedics and the Police Commissioner before Christmas and has requested a meeting with the Public Employment Commissioner and St John management.


Shadow Health Minister Lynne Walker visited RDH today to see first-hand the efforts of our hard working staff during what has been a stressful year for frontline health workers.
Ms Walker said the delayed opening of Labor's medi-hotel, the Lorraine Brennan Centre, reduced bed capacity at RDH leading to double bunking of patients and bed-block.
This facility was built to provide ‘step-down’ care for patients who needed ongoing monitoring before returning home, but no longer required a valuable hospital bed.
“Our hospitals are among the busiest in Australia, particularly our tertiary hospital, Royal Darwin, and this short-sighted move by the CLP placed extra pressure on our hardworking medical staff.
“Taking 100 beds out of the hospital system by this delay has kept wards across RDH full with little or no capacity for incoming Emergency patients, creating longer waiting times and double-bunking, despite the best efforts of staff.”
“The level of care and commitment of our health staff right across our health and hospital system, including our paramedics, remote based health staff and community care services, is second to none and I commend them for their work caring for Territorians every day.”
“We know that our hospital staff are working above and beyond, it is up to the Government to prioritise health services and fast-track additional beds and capacity in our hospitals.
“The Giles CLP Government couldn’t even manage to install an effective car parking system at RDH, bungling the paid car parking and causing more pain for patients and staff.
“Now we are going into a New Year with another new Minister, the third Health Minister in just over two years. 
Ms Walker also visited the Paediatric Ward to spread some Christmas cheer, delivering presents from Santa to the children spending the festive season in hospital.
Media Contact: Sonia Peters 0437 762 881

Shadow Minister for Health, Lynne Walker has called for an urgent clinical review into Alcohol Mandatory Treatment in the Northern Territory.

Ms Walker said a review was imperative following the tragic death of an AMT patient last month.

“The CLP Government previously committed to a proper review and evaluation of AMT services, not just a limited look at the legislation,” Ms Walker said.

“With Minister Robyn Lambley flagging changes to AMT legislation to be introduced to Parliament next week, Territorians should have access to the data around alcohol mandatory treatment so we can clearly see where, and if, the controversial policy is working to reduce alcohol related issues and improve client outcomes.”

“We need the hard data, which the CLP is refusing to release, to make informed decisions about AMT policy.”

“A proper, clinical review into mandatory treatment will provide the data and information needed to enhance the service and also identify areas where the providers of AMT services need support and resources.”

Ms Walker expressed her condolences to the family of the patient who passed away in care.
“AMT staff and providers are working hard to deliver a quality service and the best possible care but serious questions remain about the level of support they receive from the CLP Government and Health Department.”

“Are AMT providers receiving the support and resources they need to deal with clients who are often very sick with complex multiple health issues?”
“The whole Alcohol Mandatory Treatment plan has been subject to crafty government spin from the start.” 

“News of this patient’s untimely death was kept quiet by the government and the veil of secrecy needs to be addressed.”
“It is deeply concerning that the acting Health Minister has simply dismissed the incident as an unfortunate event that will be reviewed by the coroner at some future time.” 
“What is needed is an immediate and independent review by qualified medical specialists into the systems in place and the level of health assessment and on-going health support provided to Territorians being held for mandatory treatment,” Ms Walker said.
Media contact: Sonia Peters 0437 762 881


Shadow Minister for Health, Nicole Manison, said the CLP Government is more interested in bulldozer stunts than delivering the long overdue Palmerston Hospital.


"The Health Minister, Robyn Lambley, is trying to spin progress on the site but it will take a lot more action to make people believe that the Palmerston Hospital will be built in the next four years,” Ms Manison said.


"The CLP has bungled the important Palmerston Hospital project from the outset when they scrapped a serviced site for bush land, delaying the project by years.


“Adding to the mishandling of this project the CLP Government has now started land clearing on the site without consultation or communication with local residents.


"At this rate how can we have any confidence a hospital will be built by 2018?


"The tragedy is that Royal Darwin Hospital is overcrowded now and our terrific doctors and nurses are working under constant pressure.


"Patients are enduring long waits in the Emergency Department as staff grapple with bed block and we see yet more bungling by the CLP."



Media contact: Cathryn Tilmouth 0427 500 667


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