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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 12 Hansard (19 November) . . Page.. 4325..


MR CORBELL: Doctors who operate in Canberra are increasingly not bulk-billing and that is a function of federal government policy. Remember what the federal government's last announcement was? It was that doctors who lived in Canberra would get an extra dollar if they bulk-billed. The federal government was laughed at by the AMA, by the divisions, by doctors and by the broader community, because it did nothing to address access to bulk-billing.

The most recent announcement, made yesterday, does not do that either. In fact, while John Howard talks about a safety net for people, guess what you have to do to be eligible for the safety net? You have to spend $500, so you have to pay for the safety net. That is the sort of safety net that John Howard is delivering, one that you have to pay for and access before you can take advantage of it.

In addition to that, it means that more doctors will be charging more. The assumption will now grow that everything is all right and so we risk seeing doctors' fees rise even further. That is the consequence of the federal government's so-called reforms, its so-called Medicare plus-Medicare minus, as it has been more rightly named. Those are the issues that can only be addressed through a fundamental rethink of Medicare at a national level.

However, the ACT government is doing its bit to improve access to primary care. We are working in partnership with the Commonwealth on access to after-hours GP services. We are working in partnership with the Commonwealth when it comes to access to doctors' incentive programs, encouraging doctors to relocate to Canberra. We are being proactive and pragmatic in addressing this issue of key concern to the Canberra community. I am yet to hear anything from the Liberal Party about what they think should be done to improve access to GP services in Canberra.

Stamp duty

MR HARGREAVES: Mr Speaker, my question is to the Treasurer. The Treasurer would be aware of recent statements made by Mr Smyth regarding the level of stamp duty in the ACT. There have been suggestions that the government should reduce the level of duty applied. What would be the impact of such a reduction?

MR QUINLAN: I thank Mr Hargreaves for the question. In a press release of 11 November Mr Smyth observed "a substantial increase in conveyancing duty revenue", laid the responsibility for that at the feet of government and, by implication, called for a substantial decrease in the revenue stream. He stated that a "restructuring of duty formula would go a long way to alleviating stress on home buyers struggling in a volatile market".

Mr Speaker, let us look at the Smyth thesis that the government is to blame. Well we will take credit for the fact that we have an active economy and an active housing market. However, the thesis of Mr Smyth is typically sloppy. It did not in fact recognise the difference between value of homes and the volume of homes involved in the churn in the market. It is typically sloppy in that it did not recognise the physical change in the median house; it did not recognise that in an improved market the expectations of the


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