In June 2013, the then Minister for Indigenous Health (Hon Warren Snowdon MP) wrote to the South Australian Minister for Health and Ageing (Hon Jack Snelling MP) about an offer to provide $1.8 million for the capital cost of establishing a renal facility on the APY Lands in Ernabella/Pukatja.1
Six weeks later, on 15 July 2013, the Paper Tracker Radio Show interviewed the Coalition Spokesperson for Indigenous Health (Dr Andrew Laming MP).
During the interview, Dr Laming announced that – if elected – a Coalition Government would come to an agreement with the South Australian and Northern Territory Governments “within six months” of the date of the election on how any “remaining, uncommitted money” would be expended on “renal dialysis and primary renal health care in Central Australia.”2
Mr Laming’s commitment built upon earlier statements he had made in which he had described the inability of governments to “grind out” a deal for Aboriginal dialysis patients as “one of the emerging health tragedies of 2013.”3
On 4 September 2013, the Coalition Campaign Headquarters advised the Kidney Action Network that:
The Coalition has been monitoring the availability of remote renal dialysis services for some time. We are particularly concerned by the lack of adequate renal services in remote Indigenous communities, particularly in the Northern Territory, as well as in the APY and NPY lands…
A Coalition Government will work with the Northern Territory, South Australian and Western Australian Governments as a priority to resolve the ongoing renal crisis facing remote Indigenous communities.4
Negotiations over the funding arrangements for the proposed dialysis facility on the APY Lands had not been completed when the Coalition was elected on 7 September 2013.
On 18 September 2013, Hon Peter Dutton MP was sworn-in as Australia’s new Minister for Health.
On the basis of commitments made in the run up to the election, the Paper Tracker trusts MInister Dutton will conclude negotiations with the South Australian Government around funding for a permanent dialysis facility in Pukatja by 7 March 2014 (i.e. within 6 months of the date of the election).
- See: Snelling, J. 27 June 2013. Letter to W. Snowdon. Also: Palmer, S (Office of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health). 7 June 2013. Transcript of evidence given at Estimates hearing, Community Affairs Legislation Committee, Senate, Parliament of Australia, page 38. The $1.8 million offer was to cover the capital cost of building a four-chair dialysis unit in Pukatja, accommodation for two renal nurses and some other establishment costs. For more details on the proposal, listen to the Paper Tracker’s August 2013 interview with Sarah Brown, the Chief Executive of Western Desert Nganampa Walytja Palyantjaku Tjutaku Aboriginal Corporation.
- Two versions of the interview – with and without Pitjantjatjara/Yankunytjatjara interpretation – are available online at: https://www.papertracker.com.au/radio/interview-with-andrew-laming-mp/.
- Laming. A. 3 June 2013. “Aboriginal heroes betrayed by buck-passing,” Sydney Morning Herald. Available at: http://www.smh.com.au/comment/aboriginal-heroes-betrayed-by-buckpassing-20130603-2nlfw.html
- Loughnane, B. 4 September 2013. Letter to John Paterson, Kidney Action Network from Brian Loughnan, Federal Campaign Director, Coalition Campaign Headquarters.