Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2008 Week 8 Hansard (7 August) . . Page.. 3045..
MR HARGREAVES (continuing):
committee? Yes. Did they read it? No. Otherwise they would not ask such a silly question, which is: were we going to do it? The answer is yes. It was in the budget papers.
Health—Wanniassa medical centre
MRS BURKE: My question is to the Minister for Health. I refer to the imminent closure of the Wanniassa medical centre. When were you first made aware of this closure and, given the government's attempts to take credit for the success of the Ainslie medical practice, shouldn't you now accept some of the blame for this closure?
MS GALLAGHER: I became aware of the closure of Wanniassa medical centre some time last week, I imagine at about the same time that everyone else became aware of it. Primary Health Care certainly does not ring me and advise me of decisions that they have taken. It was some time last week.
All of us in this Assembly have to understand that there are very few things that we can do about this. Whilst we can sit here and decide that someone should be blamed for it, everyone in this place understands that a decision of Primary Health Care is a decision for that business. They have made a business decision.
Mr Smyth: What did you do?
MS GALLAGHER: There are three things that I have done.
Mr Smyth: Three things?
Mr Pratt: We are not blaming you. We are not blaming you for closing it.
MR SPEAKER: Order! Mr Smyth,
MS GALLAGHER: I have written to Nicola Roxon about the GP shortages. I have written to Mr Bateman about the decision of Primary Health Care. I have met with health about looking at what we can do to get our walk-in centres operating in Tuggeranong as quickly as possible. Everyone in this place—unless they can come up with another idea—knows that that is the extent of the ACT government's power over this decision. Mr Smyth knows that and Mrs Burke knows that.
The discussion I had with Mrs Burke earlier today was about bipartisan support to look at what we could do around the future residents and a referral to a committee. I was happy to support this. I think it is worth looking at every single avenue to make sure that anything we can do to encourage more GPs to this region is done. That is what I have been working on for the past two years.
Mrs Burke has decided to enter this discussion now, and that is great. I think a standing committee inquiry to this is fine. But to ask for bipartisan support in the genuine interest of the Wanniassa community and then stand up about two hours later and try to blame this on me is a bit rich.