This content relates to a former minister

Interview with Chris Kenny, of Sky News, on 3 March 2022, on the flood crisis

Read the transcript of Minister Gillespie's interview with Chris Kenny, of Sky News, on 3 March 2022, on the flood crisis.

The Hon Dr David Gillespie MP
Former Minister for Regional Health

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The flood crisis is taking a toll on hospitals and GPs, especially in regional areas. Let's catch up with David Gillespie. He's the Regional Health Minister. He's also the Member for the seat of Lyne which is on the mid-north coast of New South Wales. That's where most of that heavy rain has been dumped today around Taree and Port Macquarie. Thanks for joining me in Sydney, David. First up, what are the reports you're getting from your electorate? Not as flood prone there, I understand, but gee, you've been battered by- with the help of- a heap of rain.


Yes, we have. Look, there is minor flooding across both the Hastings catchment and the Manning, but nothing like the Armageddon floods we had a year ago in March where 15,000 people were displaced from their homes. A lot of anxious people, but all the major, major flooding this time has been in the north around Lismore, and south-east Queensland, and that place in between. But look, there's still a lot of anxious people because as you know, there's East Coast lows. They did a curve ball around our area and went down off Sydney, but there's still the potential. Everything is so waterlogged it could flare up, and let's hope it doesn't.


Yeah, there's no doubt it could get worse in some areas. There's more rain around Brisbane today and we'll get an update on the weather later in the program. But I want to talk to you about the recovery, especially when it comes to regional health services.

You talk about Lismore. So many people now displaced from their homes, some of them obviously have health problems to start with, some of them are very orderly. How do we make sure they get the care they need, not just tomorrow, but in the weeks and months ahead? And also, we've heard from people who have been through the flooding in the past that it leaves them with all sorts of emotional and mental health problems. So, I imagine you need to be planning for a lot of work in these areas for a long while to come?


Yes, Chris, you're exactly right. I did have a very extensive briefing from the Health Department about the mechanisms that we have activated.

We've learnt from these past disasters last year and the bushfires for prescriptions. There is extended dispensing provisions still in place, but in the in the Wilson River around Lismore, part of the problem, and in south-east Queensland, is about a quarter to a half of the general practises, and the pharmacies, are in CBD areas that have been flooded. So, where there is an operating pharmacy, people can just turn up with evidence of their current prescription drugs that they require, and they can be dispensed, or they can get it as a script through conversations via the pharmacist with their GP.

Look, the mental health issue is a very acute problem, and then there's a very long, slow burn after it. These are really traumatic.

You know, people's lives, their savings, their house is the centre of their life, and when you displace them, it's really distressing. A lot of issues came up which will come up with this.


 [Interrupts] A terrible, terrible business. Indeed, tough times ahead.

Thanks for joining us, David.

DAVID GILLESPIE: Okay. Thanks, Chris.

CHRIS KENNY: Thanks, David. Dr David Gillespie there, who is the Minister for Regional Health.

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