Labor leader Anthony Albanese has used a campaign trip to the Northern Territory to announce significant funding for Medicare and reiterate his pledge to legislate an Indigenous voice to parliament.
Flanked by Labor’s candidate for Lingiari, Marion Scrymgour, Mr Albanese criticised the Morrison government for ruling out a voice to parliament as requested in the Uluru Statement from the Heart.
“The only voice Scott Morrison ever wants to hear is his own,” he told reporters in Darwin on Saturday.
“First Nations people are just asking to be consulted on issues that affect their lives … What they are asking for is a partner, for a joining of hands in our common interests.”
The territory has attracted significant interest from both major parties this campaign given its two federal seats, both held by Labor, are in play.
Asked if he would change if elected to parliament, like Prime Minister Scott Morrison pledged to do on Friday, Mr Albanese said he was known for being consistent in character and had never forgotten where he came from.
“What you see is what you get. The values I was raised with, the values that I hold dear are the values I’ll take into government,” he said.
Mr Albanese said he would be the one to unite the country after the prime minister had sought to divide it.
But one Lingiari voter told AAP he had found both campaigns uninspiring and was unconvinced by either of them.
“I think it’s a bit of a circus, they hand out all this money and they try to get everyone back on side when they should have done that in the previous three years,” said the voter in Darwin, who didn’t disclose his name.
“It’s a little bit insulting they come through and promise all these things in the last two weeks and then don’t achieve any of those in the next three years.”
The Labor leader was in Darwin to announce Medicare funding that he says will strengthen Australia’s public healthcare system.
“One of the things about primary health care is that over a period of time … it actually saves you money,” Mr Albanese said.
“If you get that care early, then people get better health outcomes but importantly it takes pressure off the hospital system and people needing much greater health interventions.”
The $750 million commitment will go towards the highest priorities in the system which Labor would determine by the end of the year.
From July 2023, $250 million a year would be provided to establish urgent care clinics, improve newborn screening, restore regional mental telehealth services and boost the regional healthcare workforce.
The Australian Medical Association has welcomed the announcement of more investment in the nation’s general practitioners.
“For many patients who currently see multiple healthcare professionals, across multiple appointments and in multiple locations, this policy could save them a lot of coordination, time and money,” president Omar Khorshid said.
Place of originAlbanese promises health, Indigenous voice