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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2008 Week 1 Hansard (14 February) . . Page.. 265..


MS GALLAGHER (continuing):

may not elect to see him. If his books are particularly busy, he may recommend he see another specialist. If he does see him, he will charge him a fee, which the patient will need to pay out of his own pocket, regardless of whether the person wants to be seen as a public or private patient at that point.

The patient, as an alternative to seeing a private practitioner, may be able to access the public system as an outpatient or via the emergency department at a public hospital. If she or he does, and they have a need to, they will have access to a doctor at the hospital. This doctor may be a VMO, who is sometimes a private specialist working in a public capacity, or it may be a public doctor employed as a staff specialist at the hospital. It depends who is on the clinic for that time. It is only at the entry to the public system that the patient will be treated and seen as a public patient. That is where the patient makes that choice.

For example, the scenario provided yesterday by Mrs Burke in the adjournment debate had a number of errors in it. I hope I have cleared up those errors for you. I hope you now understand that the information at some point given to this patient was incorrect. I hope that we have a way forward with this patient. I understand that we do and that the patient will be seen as a public patient.

But the public patient can be seen only at the public hospital, regardless of what was said or what was not said, or an appointment declined or agreed to in a private capacity. Yesterday Mrs Burke was really suggesting that the government should be responsible for and control the behaviour of all doctors across the ACT system, regardless of whether they are public or private specialists.

Mrs Burke: I never said that.

MS GALLAGHER: That is what you were saying. Essentially what you are asking for is a socialised health system, Mrs Burke—

MR SPEAKER: Order! Order! Direct your comments through me, please.

MS GALLAGHER: And it is not one that we have or intend to have in the future. It may be something that you will promise as part of the election campaign.

Mrs Burke: Touchy.

MS GALLAGHER: I am not touchy Mrs Burke; just get the story right. She is an embarrassment.

MR SPEAKER: Order! Deputy Chief Minister.

Emergency services—FireLink

MR PRATT: My question is to the minister for emergency services. Minister, the FireLink mobile data and vehicle location system was deemed by your government to be an urgent operational necessity which had to be rolled out by no later than bushfire season 2004-05. A search of Hansard for FireLink over the life of this Assembly indicates that the dumped $5 million project was mentioned more than 100 times. The great majority of these mentions—


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