Sometimes in politics you get the chance to be involved in something than can make a true and lasting difference to local communities. The recent announcement in the federal budget of the creation of the Murray Darling Medical Schools Network is one such occasion. At the heart of the new $95.4 million five-school network is a brand-new medical school that will be established in central-western New South Wales through a partnership between Charles Sturt University and the University of Western Sydney After a decade of campaigning, countless setbacks and some fierce resistance, it is mission accomplished.
Make no mistake, this initiative is transformational for country Australia. It will change the practice of medicine in our country areas for generations by taking country students and training them in the bush for practice as doctors in the bush. The extraordinary thing about the campaign for this new medical school has been that it has come from the grassroots of our communities. Country people die younger than city people; that's the cold, hard truth. Their health outcomes are worse on just about every measure. It is not acceptable, and country people know it. They know firsthand about the impact of doctor shortages, and it is why this campaign has resonated so much.
Thank you to everyone who has supported it, from individuals to doctors to the community groups and local councils. It was a true community effort and it was a long and sometimes rough ride, but we got there, and it was worth it. The time for a new medical school at Charles Sturt University and a fair go for country patients has finally arrived.