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MR STEFANIAK: Mr Connolly, let me point this out: I will be delighted, Mr Connolly, to talk to my Chief Minister in relation to this. If any of those trips were not proper, and if that staff member - - -

Mr Connolly: It is your staff. Do you not know what your staff are doing?

MR STEFANIAK: Yes, I do, and that was quite clear. She went down there for a conference. Mr Connolly, let me say this: If there is anything wrong - - -

Mr Connolly: A party conference that you did not attend.

MR STEFANIAK: A coalition Ministers advisory conference. If there is any problem with that, Mr Connolly, that money will be repaid, because that went through normal channels. I have no dramas with that. From what my colleagues are saying, it is exactly the same thing as you people did in government. It is really quite simple, Mr Connolly. If my Chief Minister says there is any problem with that, that will be repaid, and I will assure you that it will not happen again in the future.

Community Health Centres - Bulk-Billing

MR OSBORNE: My question, Mr Speaker, is to the Minister for Health, Mrs Carnell. Would you clarify for me a point in relation to the removal of salaried GPs from the government health centres? Mrs Carnell, since Canberra families are to lose the 12 bulk-billing ACT government salaried doctors, will that mean that in future all of the GPs and specialists operating in our health centres will be required to bulk-bill, as you assured me in a meeting in your office? Also, will the other services currently available at these centres remain available?

MRS CARNELL: The services available at health centres will expand, we hope. In fact, that is our plan. Interestingly, currently, probably right at this moment, negotiations are happening with those current CMPs with regard to encouraging them to stay in our health centres as practising GPs. Many of those GPs have been operating out of health centres for a long period - in fact, up to 20 years in one particular circumstance. We have said that we would encourage those GPs to stay. As our first port of call we are negotiating with those GPs in an attempt to get them to stay if it is humanly possible. Our preferred position with those CMPs, firstly, is that they stay if it is humanly possible, because they have patients and so on. Secondly, our preferred position is that they bulk-bill. Our absolute minimum position with those CMPs is that they bulk-bill all patients who have any difficulty paying, for whatever reason. With other doctors, other than those CMPs, coming to our health centres, our required position is that they bulk-bill everybody.

MR OSBORNE: I have a supplementary question. Chief Minister, will you assure this Assembly that the medical centres in question will operate completely as bulk-billing centres?

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