Rally defends health system
by Janet Parker
SYDNEY — One thousand pensioners, health and community workers from across NSW rallied here on February 11 against the dismantling of the public health system.
A lively contingent from the Illawarra region bussed to Sydney donned in T-shirts urging NSW voters to "put the Liberals last" at the state election. Many have been participants in the month-long picket at Coledale Hospital to prevent the removal of equipment and its eventual privatisation.
Other prominent contingents included the Port Macquarie Hospital Action Group, the Friends of Prince Henry Hospital and ARCH — the group fighting the planned closure of Canterbury Hospital. Chanting "public health not private wealth", the protesters marched to a meeting organised by the Combined Pensioners and Superannuants Association and the Public Hospitals Coalition at Sydney Town Hall.
Shadow health minister Andrew Refshauge outlined the extensive cutbacks to health by the NSW Liberal government.
"All governments are dominated by a bureaucratic, treasury view", Doctors Reform spokesperson Dr Con Costa told the crowd. "We say to all government that we want our hospitals run according to health and not profits."
Women's Abortion Action Campaign activist Margaret Kirkby warned of the limits to women's health services resulting from the signing over of public hospitals to the Catholic Health Care Association.
Aboriginal health concerns were addressed by community worker Pam Greer. Infant mortality among Aboriginal people is still three times the national average, and life expectancy is 15-17 years lower than the national average.