A FEDERAL Labor MP has defended Health Minister Tanya Plibersek’s snub of Peter’s Project campaigners.
Corangamite MP Darren Cheeseman has supported the bureaucratic response sent to the project’s committee denying them a chance to meet with Ms Plibersek.
Supporters were outraged this week after the health minister’s signature did not even appear on the letter sent to Peter’s Project, which is approaching the third anniversary of its fight for an integrated cancer treatment centre in the south-west.
Mr Cheeseman reiterated comments provided to The Standard this week by the Department of Health and Ageing. “The federal budget has no additional money in the health and hospital fund — if there’s no money in the budget there’s no point in having a meeting for them,” Mr Cheeseman said.
“There’s no reason to raise expectations in the community.
“Federal Labor has invested in cancer centres in south-west Victoria including a cancer support centre in Geelong, which covers the region.”
The MP also levelled blame at budget cuts to health made by the Victorian Government in last year’s budget.
His remarks drew harsh criticism from Wannon MP Dan Tehan, who labelled Mr Cheeseman’s defence “an insult”.
“This is about healthcare in south-west Victoria, not Geelong,” Mr Tehan said.
“It just shows that the Gillard government has not been listening and has no idea of the pain and suffering to travel those distances to get to those services.”
Mr Tehan said he would recommend Peter’s Project write to Prime Minister Julia Gillard next week, urging her to reverse the decision of the health minister’s department.
He said he had also been in contact with the opposition’s health spokesman Peter Dutton, who held a meeting with the group last year.