I have fantastic news: Christine Milne and I have successfully negotiated for an overhaul of Australia's dental system.
We're starting with an immediate cash injection in Tuesday's Budget to help people straightaway, and we'll follow up by designing a new, national dental scheme in partnership with the Government.
This is the most important dental reform in a generation, it couldn't have happened without the Greens in the balance of power - and it couldn't have happened without you keeping Denticare on the national agenda with your passionate support. Congratulations! And thank you all.
When Treasurer Swan hands down the Budget on Tuesday night, a package of dental reforms that we've negotiated with the Government will help people get dental treatment faster and get the workforce ready for a national scheme.
The reforms we've negotiated for this week's Budget will mean:
- $345.9 million for a public dental waiting list blitz, to help the 400,000 Australians on public waiting lists get treatment faster;
- the Chronic Dental Disease Scheme will be saved from Budget cuts, until we can develop a comprehensive national scheme with the Government to replace it;
- $158.6 million to train more dentists and oral health therapists, and help dental professionals set up practices in rural areas; and,
- $10.5 million to promote good oral health.
This package is exactly the outcome we needed in this year's Budget to start Australia on the road to Denticare.
We're going to take the next steps towards Denticare straightaway. Starting this week, and continuing in coming months, we will negotiate with the Government to design a scheme to help Australians access the dental care they need. We're all going to need to keep the campaign going to get the best outcome from those negotiations: bringing dental care into Medicare.
Later this year, we will bring the results of our negotiations to the Parliament and establish a national dental scheme. I look forward to voting for that reform, which will be a direct result of your passionate support.
It's worth celebrating how far we've come together. The 1.6 million of you who voted us into the balance of power gave us the leverage we needed to get the Government to commit to dental health in our agreement. Since then a groundswell of public support, one of the biggest we've seen, has backed Denticare every step of the way.
To every one of you who voted Green in 2010: thank you. To the thousands of you who joined the petition we delivered to the Treasurer to fund dental health in this Budget: thank you. To the thousands more who shared your stories of the dental crisis with me, or spent hours collecting signatures outside your local Medicare office, or spread the word online: thank you. Together, we've secured major steps along the road to solving Australia's dental crisis.
Today's reforms will make a real difference to the lives of so many people. This is what a power sharing Parliament does best: craft real reforms to improve our quality of life and build a fairer country.
Congratulations again - this is your vote, and your hard work, in action.
Yours in celebration,
Richard Di Natale
You can read more about the full dental package here.