What's in it for me? Doctor

Lebanese-born Dr Jamal Rifi arrived in Australia in 1984 to study medicine. He's now a pillar of the community. He talks to SBS about what he wants to see in the federal budget.

World News Australia Online speaks to four members of the community who will be directly affected by changes in the budget. See what they have to say.

The doctor

Lebanese-born Jamal Rifi arrived in Australia aged 24 to study medicine. He has always had a strong desire to build ties between different communities, and before long was a Commissioner of the Ethnic Affairs Commission.

In 2007, Dr Rifi was a recipient of the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Award in the Community Catergory for the promotion of human rights in the Australian community. Last year, he was named Australian Local Hero of the Year, Muslim Man of the Year and Australian Professional of the Year.

He has a practice in the south-western Sydney suburb of Sydney.

Dr Rifi says he's disillusioned with the Rudd Government's decision to drop its ETS plans, and counts renewable energies, public transport and the emergence of sustainable resources as some of the most important areas of federal funding.

He stays stamp duty should be cut, and the GST should be increased to 12 per cent. He also thinks the Medicare Levy should be increased for high earners, and that means testing for federal funding should apply for people who earn over $200,000.

As a doctor, he thinks hospital funding and health reforms are vital.


The Budget

Health system gets extra $2.2 billion taking investment to $7.3 billion over 5 years and $23 billion over the next decade.

New health funding includes $772 million for primary care and GPs, $355 million for GP super clinics and expanding existing clinics, $523 million to train and support nurses and $467 million for electronic health records.

Reforms to Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme to deliver $2.5 billion in savings over five years.

Budget reaction

Dr Rifi says his initial reaction was positive and is glad to see that the government has invested money into after hours care.

"I am happy that urban GPs will be able to employ nurses. That will ease waiting time in surgery for patients.

"I am also please that they are investing into existing clinics and new super clinics for rural areas."

Dr Rifi says all these measures will help families to seek primary care.

He says the plan to invest in a 24-hour medical helpline where nurses will help patients and offer referrals to clinics will help.

"I can see that what they have done is look after the interest of the whole nation"

"The changes they make will also make dealing with Pharmaceutical companies easier and the cost of medication will be lowered and that means more money for health," Dr Rifi said.

He said that he feels the government were very responsible economically and fiscally, as well as the budget's effort to increase renewable energy usage.

Source SBS

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