QUEENSLAND LIBERAL-NATIONAL PARTY senators Sue Boyce [pictured] and Ian Macdonald have condemned plans by the Australian and Queensland governments to close the tuberculosis clinics in the Torres Strait on Saibai and Boigu.
“These clinics perform an invaluable service in providing world class medical care for people from both Papua New Guinea and the Torres Strait,” Senator Boyce said.
“This is a highly infectious disease with terrible consequences if untreated. We have a duty of care to the people of Torres Strait to fight treatable infectious disease in our region that may threaten the health of all Australians.”
Queensland Health chief health officer Jeanette Young said Torres Strait Island residents would continue to receive treatment through a network of primary health centres.
“Current TB services for PNG nationals which are currently located within Australia will transition across the border into PNG,” Dr Young said.
“The Commonwealth’s decision will have no bearing on the diagnosis or treatment of Australian Torres Strait Island residents.”
Senator Boyce said the Commonwealth had a “moral and legal responsibility” under the 1991 Torres Strait Treaty to provide financial compensation to the Queensland Health system for the care it gave to people from PNG.
“It is simply stupid - and potentially dangerous - to close these clinics because of an argument over funding between Queensland and Federal Labor governments,” she said.
Senators Boyce and Macdonald have successfully moved a motion in the senate calling on the Commonwealth to provide long-term funding through AusAID to keep the clinics open and to protect the health and well-being of Torres Strait Australians.
“There have recently been two cases of drug-resistant TB in the Torres Strait. The combined governments’ inaction has the potential to cause a health calamity in northern Australia,” Senator Boyce said.
Source: Torres News Online, 18 November