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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 12 Hansard (19 November) . . Page.. 4323..


MS GALLAGHER (continuing):

shadow minister, so I am very pleased to get one on this important portfolio. That makes No 9 for my ministry, Mr Pratt. I should add that it is very nice to get a question about the facilities of public education, considering there have been hours of debate about the facilities and the tragic demise of the interest subsidy scheme that has been building air-conditioned drama centres at Boys Grammar.

I am pleased to see that your focus has shifted back to the real issues in school infrastructure. This year the department is undertaking a feasibility study into school halls in relation to a number of schools. Hall is one of them, and Belconnen and Melrose High are others. There are a number of schools around Canberra that were not built with a separate gymnasium and a hall, and that has put some pressure on those schools. That feasibility study has been going on this year, and the results of it will help determine the capital works program in next year's budget.

MR PRATT: I have a supplementary question. Minister, will you ensure that the kids at Hall Primary School have access to the same level of hall and sporting facilities as the kids attending similar sized primary schools have?

MS GALLAGHER: That it is the reason for the study into this. There is a problem when a school is built with a level of facilities that is different from another school's, and it is not exclusive to the school you are talking about. There are a range of issues that need to be looked at, such as the demographic and the projected populations of those schools, and, in expanding facilities, the land that is available to do that.

There is a range of things that need to be taken into consideration, and they are being taken into consideration. We are doing the work so that it informs the decisions we take in relation to the capital works program for all government schools. That will be considered in next year's budget.

Health-bulk-billing

MR STEFANIAK: My question is to the Minister for Health. Minister, I refer to your media release of 5 March, which said:

The fall in bulk billing GPs has resulted in an increase in demand for GP-type services at our hospital emergency departments. Attendances for patients with less urgent conditions at ACT emergency departments has grown by 15% (over the period for which data are available, 1998-99 to 2001-02).

On the weekend, you ran a publicly funded advertisement recruiting GPs in the national press, which stated:

Canberra also offers high rates of private billing in a broad range of highly professional, accredited and fully computerised practices.

The advertisement did not mention bulk-billing at all. Minister, why are you spending public money encouraging doctors to come to Canberra to operate private billing practices when you claim that lack of bulk-billing is causing the crisis in our hospital emergency departments?


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