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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2001 Week 2 Hansard (27 February) . . Page.. 331..


Medical school

MRS BURKE: My question is to the Minister for Health, Housing and Community Services, Mr Moore. Minister, could you tell me what progress has been made towards establishing a new medical school in Canberra?

MR MOORE: I thank Mrs Burke for the question. I think that it is her first question to me and I appreciate getting it.

At this stage, there is just broad agreement between us and the federal minister, Dr Michael Wooldridge, about a medical school. He has offered 25 rural places for teaching in Canberra. Many of you will be aware that the University of Canberra and the Australian National University are extraordinarily keen to have a medical school and both of them appear to be very keen to do so in their own way.

Dr Wooldridge, through the University of Sydney, commissioned Professor Porter to chair a committee to resolve some of the issues. I have to say that the report of that committee, a copy of which I have provided to Mr Berry and am happy to provide to other people, is somewhat disappointing. It does not give us a particularly good way to move ahead.

Therefore, what we have determined to do is to ensure that we have a good understanding of what we want in a medical school. I will be discussing that with Dr Wooldridge. We also want a much better handle on what the costs are likely to be and we have asked Professor Porter in a personal capacity to do some costings on a medical school, given the extensive experience he has of medical schools.

Having got that information, having understood the money situation, having talked to Dr Wooldridge and having a clear idea ourselves of what we want in a medical school, it will be appropriate for us then to go to a very narrow set of expressions of interest so that we can determine whether there is a university, a combination of universities or a collaborative approach that will deliver for us what we want in terms of having a medical school.

It is my view and the view of this government that it is pointless to have a standard medical school that is the same as any other medical school in Australia. The money associated with that would be better spent in other areas of health. If we want doctors who come out of a conventional medical school, it is far better for us simply to attract them to the ACT, which is not that difficult. If we want to make a broader contribution about the way we think medicine should operate into the future and make sure that we work with the community to understand how it should operate, it is far better to use this kind of approach.

If other members have ideas about how they perceive a medical school should operate, I would be quite happy to meet with them and talk to them about those possibilities before we go to expressions of interest. I would think that the process that we are going into would mean that we should go to expressions of interest at some time in the middle of the year to try to determine what is the most effective way of getting the best possible medical school that looks into the future with doctors who are prepared to work in teams, who understand issues of population health, of epidemiology, and who understand the


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