25 February 2022 The Ararat Advocate

It’s no secret that regional Australians have been doing it tough.

Through fire and flood, through a global pandemic, through drought, through significant supply chain issues and severe worker shortages, our farmers have been struggling.

But why have they been struggling alone?

The Liberal and National parties have abandoned regional Australia. While farming communities have been crying out for support, the only thing the Morrison-Joyce Government has delivered them is press conference after press conference.

Unfortunately recent events in Canberra serve as a perfect example of the approach of this Government. The challenges facing regional Australia continue, yet the Liberals and Nationals are only focused on themselves. Maybe instead of sending nasty text messages about each other, this Government could get its head out of the sand and take notice of the real issues being faced by regional Australians.

There is a dire shortage of GPs in regional, rural and remote communities. Deloitte estimates that our country is facing a shortfall of nearly 9,300 full-time GPs by 2030, representing about a quarter of the workforce.

This shortfall is already having a detrimental impact on regional Australians. Too many people are waiting weeks to see a GP, travel long distances to get care, or simply go without. For those going without treatment, their conditions could worsen and they may end up in hospital.

This shortage has been forecast for years, and Federal Labor established a Senate inquiry to hold the Morrison-Joyce Government accountable on this issue. But the Coalition has taken no action to address the shortage, and this is a problem that is only going to get worse.

But access to a GP is just one area where the Liberals and Nationals have let regional Australians down.

For years, farmers have been crying out for labour certainty. There has been headline after headline about worker shortages in regional Australia, about produce going unpicked. These issues have been exacerbated by the pandemic.

After flip flopping on an agriculture visa for years, the Morrison-Joyce Government finally launched an ag visa program 6 months ago.

But in the most recent round of Senate Estimates it was revealed that not a single worker has arrived in Australia on this visa. Zero.

This Government is all political ploys, and no real solutions for the problems facing our country.

Regional Australia cannot afford another term of this tired, dysfunctional and out of touch Morrison-Joyce Government. They deserve a Government that’s focused on delivering a better future, not focused on tearing itself apart.