Opinion Pieces

Check out opinion pieces that Murray Watt has written.


February 09, 2022



Few things in life are as important as our health.
It’s central to our families, our work and our overall quality of life.
And good health depends on having access to free, quality health care. No matter who you are, where you live, or whether you’re rich or poor. 
Free, universal health care under Medicare has been an Australian birthright, ever since Bob Hawke and Labor created Medicare in the 1980s.
Unfortunately, close to a decade of LNP Government in Canberra means our birthright is under attack.
Nearly ten years of Medicare cuts by Scott Morrison, Barnaby Joyce and their local LNP MPs means health care in Central Queensland has got worse. And if they get a second decade in office, there will be more to come.
I’m not just talking about Scott Morrison’s ongoing mistakes in managing COVID – the slow vaccine rollout, delays with booster shots, the failure to supply rapid antigen tests, or the elective surgery delays caused by COVID patients in hospitals.
I’m talking about the Central Queenslanders who are waiting for weeks to see their doctor, with some forced into emergency departments for GP type treatments because they simply can’t book an appointment.
It’s a scary reality in Gracemere with GP clinics refusing to take on new patients because they can’t employ enough doctors. 
In Emerald, it takes around 6 months to get an appointment with a psychologist. 
Scott Morrison and the LNP’s track record in health is shameful. 
The electorate of Flynn – stretching from Gladstone to Emerald, Gracemere, Biloela and more - is second last in Queensland for the number of GPs to residents. The electorate of Capricornia, which runs from Rockhampton to Collinsville and Clermont isn’t much better. 
Rockhampton residents are forced to wait a month to see their GP. Specialist appointments are even harder to come by and more expensive, with costs increasing by 62% under the LNP. 
There’s a reason for this.
In 2019, Scott Morrison cut regional Australia’s access to bonded and overseas trained doctors, making GP shortages much worse.
For years, the LNP froze the Medicare rebate paid to GPs, making it unaffordable for them to bulk bill patients, and reducing access to bulk billing across the region. 
And it’s Central Queenslanders who pay the price for this neglect.
Access to a GP shouldn’t be reserved for those that live in Brisbane, Sydney or Melbourne.
Now, on the eve of an election, Scott Morrison’s team - Michelle Landry, Matt Canavan and Ken O’Dowd, want you to believe they finally care. 
All sorts of band aids are being announced to cover up for nearly ten years of cuts and neglect. 
On health care, COVID and more, the Morrison-Joyce always does too little, too late.
Central Queenslanders can trust Labor to protect Medicare – a system we created – and to put their health first.
An Albanese Labor Government will make it easier for thousands of Australians in outer suburbs and regions to see a GP.
Labor will expand the overseas trained and bonded doctor access to Medicare, ensuring more GPs work in outer suburban and regional centres.
Gracemere, Mount Morgan and other local communities will be the first to benefit. 
Central Queensland deserves to be represented by MPs who will deliver and fight for you in Canberra. MPs who believe that all Australians deserve good health care, no matter where they live. 
The only way to do that is to change the government. It’s time for a fresh start in CQ.

This opinion piece was published in the CQ Today on Wednesday, 9 February 2022.