Nurses take to water for G20 protest

Queensland, New South Wales and international nurses, midwives and nursing union officials will take to the water to raise the importance of universal health care today.

Queensland Nurses Union (QNU) Secretary Beth Mohle said the nursing contingent would fly banners highlighting the need for global health care from a boat inside the G20 exclusion zone.

Ms Mohle said she, NSW Nurses and Midwives’ Association (NSWNMA) General Secretary Brett Holmes and the nursing contingent would campaign on the Brisbane River as world leaders met at the Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre nearby.

“We will be protesting on the Brisbane River to highlight the importance of universal health care for people the world over,” Mr Holmes said.

“We are challenging the G20 world leaders to implement a Robin Hood tax (a financial transactions tax) to support universal health care systems in Australia and across the globe.

“Prime Minister Tony Abbott wanted a discussion about tax reform and we are having it – raising awareness of how a Robin Hood tax would prevent the privatisation of our public health services.

“A Robin Hood tax would target the financial sector and those engaged in high speed, high frequency transactions rather than impacting significantly on ordinary Australians’ personal savings or everyday activities like paying bills online or using an ATM.

“Instead of trying to slug those already doing it tough by broadening the GST base, we want the government to seriously consider alternative measures, such as a Robin Hood tax, to address the country’s revenue problem.

“Rather than shifting our public health care to an Americanised health system, where privatisation impedes access to health care and patients are forced to question their wealth over their health, the Robin Hood tax is a sensible alternative.”

The QNU and NSWNMA, together with local and international affiliated union groups, this week raised concerns about state and federal health funding cuts, the privatisation of public hospitals and essential health services, the dismantling of Medicare and the intrusion of private health insurers into medical decision making.

“The responsibility can’t just be left to individuals. Recent decades have seen risk shift from governments to individuals,” Ms Mohle said.

“As citizens, through our governments, we bailed out global financial corporations during the GFC, now in the wake of that crisis we are seeing austerity moves by government that place essential services like public health services at risk.”

Representatives of the NSWNMA travelled more than 1500 kilometres to join the QNU at the G20 in Brisbane to promote the Robin Hood tax to the global stage and ensure the delivery of quality public health care into the future.

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