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a continuing commitment to bulkbilling. That is where we get to the problem for Mrs Carnell because, matey as she is with the AMA, they hate bulkbilling and have long been enemies of it. This again is part of the wicked ideology of the Liberals - to strike out this sort of important provision of services which comes from Medicare, which is well loved by the people of Australia. The Liberals have always been opposed to that and they have been stung once or twice in their opposition to it. Mrs Carnell, surreptitiously, is trying to undermine bulkbilling in the ACT by attacking these community medical practitioners and the services that they provide. There are tens of thousands of people out there in the community, Mr Speaker, who have enjoyed the service provided by the community medical practitioners, and they do not want to give it up.
At a community meeting in Belconnen a little while ago, the following motion was passed:
That this meeting of residents condemns the Carnell Government’s decision -
and so they should -
to remove any salaried medical officers from the ACT health system. Furthermore, this meeting rejects the Government's failure to properly consult the community or the work force or the unions in the community health system.
Again, Mrs Carnell breaches the old promise. The fingers were crossed and she said, “I am sorry; I had my fingers crossed. Did you not see?”. Mrs Carnell promised this open, consultative, council-style government. Where was the consultation on this? She said, “Did you not see that I had my fingers crossed behind my back?”. The meeting went on to call on Assembly members to reject the Government's decision. That decision ought to be rejected because this service is a very valuable part of our community health care system, which will continue to provide service to the community if this Liberal Government opposite allows it.
They have to be stopped. If we cannot stop them now, it cannot be reversed in the future. This service is unique. It is something that is important for the ACT. There are tens of thousands of people out there who use this service, Mr Speaker, and a lot of them live in your electorate, I might remind you. This debate will go on and on, unless it is settled now. This is a very important issue in terms of the delivery of health care. These community medical practitioners must be protected. The ideology must be dropped. Forget the pleas of the AMA.
MR HUMPHRIES (Attorney-General) (11.55): Mr Speaker, I must say it is rare to see such a blatant display of hypocrisy as we have seen in the house today. Those in the gallery who have been brought here today to hear this debate ought to know a little bit about what the former Government had planned for Jindalee. The people who are here today, on a promise from the now Opposition to back them all the way, ought to know a little bit about what is going on. First of all, let me put on the record the sorts of things that Mr Connolly, the former Minister for Health, had to say about Jindalee Nursing Home. I quote from Prime News of 31 October 1994: