Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2009 Week 4 Hansard (25 March) . . Page.. 1335..
MS GALLAGHER (continuing):
Assembly any further, but there are just a couple of points to make in response to Mr Smyth. What we heard from Mr Smyth—and we are used to it—was a talking down of the public health system. I have stood here since I have been health minister and said that if you are going to get sick anywhere, Canberra is a very good place to get sick, and you will be well looked after by the hospital. The argument that Mr Smyth was running was that it is because the hospital is so badly managed that GPs and doctors in general do not want to come and work here. If that were the case, I would ask Mr Smyth why we have managed almost full recruitment across a whole range of specialties, including 84 specialists over the past two years, of which 43 are brand new positions to our system.
People want to come and work in the ACT public health system, and the new specialists that I have spoken to about why they want to come here have said it is because the ANU medical school is here, the fact that the ACT government has committed to a $1 billion rebuild of the health system, acknowledging the costs that are a part of that, and the fact that we need to be serious about meeting the health needs of our community in years to come and the preparedness of the government to put that plan on the table. We do not have a problem recruiting doctors to the public health system, nor do we have a problem with people using the public health system.
We have the highest private insurance rates in the country and the lowest utilisation of it. Why do we have that? Because people, when they get sick in the ACT, want to be treated in our public hospitals. That is because they have faith, Mr Smyth, in our public health system. So everything that you have just said is incorrect. We are recruiting doctors; doctors are coming to the ACT to work, and they are coming to work in the public health system because it is the system of choice in the ACT, Mr Smyth.
Mr Smyth: Right, I'll go back and tell the GPs I speak to that their opinions are wrong because you said so.
MS GALLAGHER: The argument that you were putting forward was that the health system here is so broken that GPs do not want to work here.
Mr Smyth: No, I didn't say it was broken. You're sure I used the word "broken"?
MS GALLAGHER: I listened to your speech, and you said because of—
Mr Smyth: You always slide around.
MS GALLAGHER: No, I do not.
MADAM ASSISTANT SPEAKER: Perhaps, minister, if you would address the chair rather than, Mr Smyth.
MS GALLAGHER: So says "Slimy", as he is known—
MADAM ASSISTANT SPEAKER: That is disorderly. Withdraw it.
MS GALLAGHER: It is an affectionate name for someone who twists words.