Robert O'Brien, Independent Candidate for Wannon.

"Lets make election day Independents Day"

Health Policy

Free healthcare. The health of the people is an asset to the country and should be treated as such. You pay to keep assets in good order, so I believe that our country can pay to keep its population healthy and able to work (for themselves, their families and their country) and enjoy life.

The current healthcare system is really only concerned with fixing people when they get sick. Apart from immunisation and the QUIT smoking campaign, there are no preventative measures.

Important and simple preventative methods are available to the government, which would cost next to nothing to implement, but would mean huge savings in the future for Health Departments through better general health of the population.

There are many food additives which have not been put through satisfactory safety testing and are in fact contributing to poor health.  In many cases, the only testing that has been done is by the company pushing for its approval – who will profit from it.  An example of this would be NutraSweet, the substitute for sugar that has been linked by the American Food and Drug Administration to up to 92 illnesses, including cancer, alzheimers, blindness, diabetes and memory loss.  A healthy and natural alternative would be Stevia.

ALDI Supermarkets have taken an important step and removed fourteen artificial colourings, leading the way for the Australian food industry and the Australian government. The artificial food colours were either replaced with natural substitutes, or nothing at all.  The move was initiated following a study by researchers at the University of Southampton which demonstrated increased levels of hyperactivity in young children.

Yes we need modern and up-to-date hospitals and treatment facilities, in reach of those people who need it.  It is important that more stress is not placed on sick people by forcing them to be alone or too far from loved ones.  Peter’s Project’s goal of radiotherapy and MRI services for the South-West can easily be funded by diverting funds from less important projects, such as the $53 million allocated to the Centre for Understanding China based at Australian National University.

But there are also other treatments that can bring the body back into balance, reducing the possibility of disease raising its head or becoming too serious.

Naturopathy, Acupuncture and Homeopathy can all play an important role in creating a healthy body and perform complimentary and/or alternative roles to current traditional medicine.

It is important to look at the body in a holistic way to find out what is causing a health problem, not just diagnose the problem and prescribe a drug to address the symptoms which will likely lead to repeat occurrences of the problem.

I believe that such alternative treatments should be brought into the mainstream and included under Medicare. Their extra initial cost will be far outweighed by a reduction in minor health problems, time off work, hospital stays and even surgery. Importantly they will also result in a happier and healthier population.

Access to health care in rural areas can be a problem with a lack of doctors and dentists willing to live in remote areas. I believe a Government Scholarship scheme should be introduced to combat this along with incentives such as tax breaks.

Many doctors and researchers have shown that poor nutrition, or a lack of certain food types, vitamins and minerals are the cause of illness. Some claim that disease can be cured by redressing this. In America, school lunches are served in many schools. Maybe providing healthy lunches to primary school children will help to prevent health problems by ensuring they are getting the nutrients they need at the stage their bodies need them to grow. Again, the benefits greatly outweigh the costs through savings in hospital treatments.

Poor nutrient levels can also be addressed by consuming fresh organic fruit and vegetables. While some studies show there is no difference in nutrient levels between organic and non-organic crops, there are other studies that do show a difference.

Official food composition tables reveal that since the 1940s the mineral levels in fruits, vegetables, meat and dairy have declined substantially in conventional foods. Combine this with earlier (pre-ripened) picking, longer storage, and more processing of crops, and it's not surprising that we may be getting fewer nutrients in our food than we were 60 years ago.

There are also the health problems caused by the residue of pesticides used on non-organic crops. It is my personal belief, and many researchers support this, that these are the cause of many health problems, including cancer.

I have spoken to many people who believe that the increase in cancer rates can be reversed by “going back” to growing our own organic fruit and vegetables.

I believe that the government should be encouraging farmers to go organic, through whatever means are available (tax breaks, loans), and give them the assistance to do so. Obviously this will take several years to achieve, and costs would be spread out over at least ten years, with benefits beginning to be seen before that time.

Further reading:

Health Benefits of Organic Food: Higher Nutrient Level

ALDI now free of artificial colours.

Information on Stevia.

Information on NutraSweet (Aspartame):
       Aspartame (NutraSweet) Toxicity Information Center.
       Aspartame, Nutrasweet Dangers to your Health.
       US FDA list of 92 symptoms of Aspartame poisoning.
       How Aspartame Became Legal.

Kevin Rudd Gives $53 million to ANU for Centre to Understand China