Mar 11, 2005

Government capitulates and reopens Leichhardt’s medicare office

GOVERNMENT CAPITULATES AND REOPENS LEICHHARDT’S MEDICARE OFFICE

MEDIA RELEASE: Anthony Albanese – 11 March 2005

After almost 8 years of community protest and lobbying, the Howard Government has capitulated and reopened Leichhardt’s Medicare office.

Today’s back-flip by the Howard Government is an admission that their decision to close this office and withdraw Medicare services from the inner-West was both irresponsible and short-sighted.

This back-flip is a victory for the many local residents who have never given up the campaign to have this vital health service restored to their community.

Ironically, this “new” Medicare office is located in the very same office space (Market Town, corner Marion & Flood Streets) that had been occupied by the office the Howard Government closed some 8 years ago.

The 1997 closure of Leichhardt’s Medicare office has had a significant effect on older people and parents with young children who have been forced to travel greater distances to claim their cash rebates or wait up to 2 weeks for it to arrive in the mail.

I congratulate all Leichhardt residents who participated in the public rallies organised to prevent the closure of their Medicare office and have subsequently maintained pressure on the Howard Government to have this service restored. The re-opening of the Leichhardt Medicare office is a victory for people power.

However, despite this back-flip by the Howard Government, the campaign to restore Medicare services to the inner-West is far from over.

It must be remembered that at the time the Leichhardt office was closed, so to was the Medicare office located on Marrickville Road, Marrickville. For the convenience and benefit of residents in Marrickville and surrounding suburbs it is now time for the Howard Government to listen to the community and immediately re-open this much needed Medicare service.

Since 1997 almost 1,000 residents have signed petitions calling on the Howard Government to re-open the Marrickville Medicare office.