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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2007 Week 12 Hansard (Wednesday, 21 November 2007) . . Page.. 3642 ..

As I have said, I have written six times in the last 12 months to the education minister, Julie Bishop, about the number of graduates through the ANU medical school, I have written to Minister Abbot five times and I have also written to the Prime Minister once, seeking further support to encourage an increase in our GP rates in the ACT. We have done what we can to address these issues. We have invested $12.1 million in capital infrastructure in the ANU medical school. We have built the medical school. We have also provided almost $2 million to build a medical school at Calvary hospital. We have also recently announced through the second appropriation $281,000 for a partnership project with the Division of General Practice to fund a marketing and support officer with the sole aim of attracting GPs to the ACT.

We have also established the Canberra after-hours locum medical service, which operates at both of our public hospitals at a cost of $1.4 million over four years. There is the Health First or healthdirect telephone service, which receives around 50,000 contacts a year as a primary point of contact for people who are concerned. So we have done a range of things to address what we can from the ACT government’s point of view to support general practitioners and to increase the number of general practitioners in the ACT. (Time expired.)

MS MacDONALD: Mr Speaker, I have a supplementary question. What has been the reaction to these initiatives and efforts?

MS GALLAGHER: I thank Ms MacDonald again. I received a rather odd response to these initiatives from two Liberal members—Liberal Senator Gary Humphries and Jacqui Burke as the opposition spokesperson on this. Aside from that, the response to this has been very positive. Yes, it is not a great deal of money. But in relation to the program to advertise and attract GPs, everyone has been supportive, including the Division of General Practice, which is very keen to do anything it can to get more GPs to the ACT.

I received a rather surprising media release from Senator Gary Humphries, who at this stage of the campaign was acknowledging the deficit of the commonwealth’s response in this area, particularly in the ACT. His media release talked about how the community is crying out for a local GP, and then bagged the ACT government for funding a $280,000 advertising campaign to bring more doctors to Canberra, funding which Senator Gary Humphries says will do next to nothing to solve the doctor shortage. He is right. I said to media outlets that he is right: funding will do nothing to train more doctors. He goes on:

Ads won’t train more doctors, they won’t create training places in hospitals or encourage more doctors to become GPs—all they will do is create an impression that the ACT government is doing something when in reality it is sitting on its hands …

Senator Humphries is right: ads will not train doctors; medical places will. What was the response from the commonwealth government? No more medical places for the ACT. They will not create training places in hospitals. That is right. But what will? Training places. And what was the response from the commonwealth government?

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