Illawarra children saved from loss of the dental scheme

Hundreds of children across the Illawarra will continue to receive access to dental services as a result of some tough negotiations in Parliament this week.

That’s because Labor MPs and Senators stood up against Malcolm Turnbull’s plan to force over five million children onto long public dental waiting lists by opposing the Government proposal to axe the Child Dental Benefits Schedule (CDBS).

Member for Cunningham, Sharon Bird MP said: “Labor has protected the Child Dental Benefits Scheme by removing it from the Government’s Omnibus legislation.

"It was absolutely incredible that the Liberals could even consider giving massive tax cuts for big business while cutting basic dental services for children,” Ms Bird said.

"Labor this week has ensured that children will be able to access dental care,” Ms Bird said. 

Stephen Jones, Member for Whitlam said that this outcome highlighted Labor’s approach to achieving Budget repair that was fair.

“According to the most recent figures available, around 17,000 families across the Illawarra and Southern Highlands could be eligible for the CDBS scheme so the local impact of this back down is very significant,” Mr Jones said.

“I am proud that this week, Labor stood up and fought to save this important scheme that ensures all kids will continue to get access to a basic level of dental care,” Mr Jones said.

“If Labor hadn’t taken this stand, over 5 million Australian children would have been pushed off onto the public dental waiting list which would have seen them waiting months, maybe years, for simple preventative dental care.”

“Labor understands that it's fundamental to keep faith with our commitments to budget repair, but to do so in such a way which doesn't increase inequality or that punishes those who can least afford it,” Mr Jones said.

In Government, Labor established the CDBS in response to alarming evidence about the oral health of Australian children. The CDBS provides eligible children with up to $1,000 in dental services every two years, with a strong focus on preventive care.

The Government’s own Health Department says the CDBS has been a success, with the only failure being the Abbott-Turnbull Government’s refusal to promote it.

Labor has also ensured that the National Partnership Agreement (NPA) on Adult Public Dental Services was maintained. This program has helped states and territories provide public dental services to eligible adults. As the Government admits, the NPA has funded treatment for an additional 400,000 patients.

But Shorten Labor will not stand by while the Government axes the effective CDBS and NPA and forces children onto long dental waiting lists.