As part of our series illustrating the work of women in government, we sat down with Shadow Health Minister Catherine King to discuss her electorate, election day and her plans beyond.
What are the key issues that people are raising with you right now?
For me as Shadow Health Minister, it’s the rising costs of health care and how hard people are finding it to access.
Whether it’s people finding an affordable local GP and getting an appointment, people feeling ripped off by their private health insurance, long wait times for outpatient appointments and surgery, high costs of seeing a specialist outside public hospital system and the costs of surgery and medicines. People are fed up with these rising costs.
What is your pitch to voters?
That Labor cares about health inequality and is the only party that actually wants to do something about it.
We know that not everyone can afford the healthcare they need when they need it and that under the Liberals the ideals of a universal health system are under threat. Medicare is under significant pressure because of their cuts and rebate freeze. We want to do something about it. It will take time as the Liberals have done so much damage in the last six years, ripping billions out of Medicare and billions from hospitals, not to mention big cuts to prevention programs and public dental.
Elections are frantic times both personally and professionally. How do you maintain balance during this period?
Being organised is really important. I plan several weeks in advance both workwise and at home. But I have also learnt to not get too stressed if things don’t go to plan or my schedule gets rearranged. I have a very supportive partner and he takes on a big load not just at election times but whenever I am away. It is such a privilege doing this job so taking moments out to enjoy the experience of being in new places and meeting new people is also really important. I like to try and go for a walk wherever I’m staying, eat well and have a laugh where I can.
What gets you highly motivated to kick goals every week?
People. I hate seeing people having to fight unfair decisions, particularly when they struggle to make their voices heard. That’s why restoring fairness and equality into our health system is so important to me.
What is the first thing you would do if elected?
Say thank you to the lovely people of Ballarat, my fabulous staff and my supportive family—and then if we are fortunate enough to have won government, get down to the work of implementing our health policies. It’s a big agenda and there would not be a day to waste.