Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1995 Week 10 Hansard (5 December) . . Page.. 2624 ..
MR CONNOLLY (continuing):
There was no announcement by the Government that it was sacking the doctors in the private health centres. This was not part of the budget.
Mrs Carnell: They were not sacked.
MR CONNOLLY: They were not sacked? Oh, well, they are all still there and we do not have a problem. We are just imagining the fact that they have disappeared.
Ms Follett: The patients are hallucinating.
MR CONNOLLY: Yes, the patients are hallucinating. The letter from the Department of Health to all of the patients does not really exist. Mr Speaker, there was no announcement that the doctors were sacked, and it seems the Minister is still trying to maintain that the doctors were not being - - -
Mrs Carnell: Redundancies are not sackings.
MR CONNOLLY: Oh, redundancies are not sackings.
Mrs Carnell: They are not.
MR CONNOLLY: I am sure that is understood by everybody who gets a redundancy. Tell the SES and tell that to the people who have lost access to their doctors. Mr Speaker, the Government is not admitting what they have done. The fact that the doctors were to go was not announced by this Government; it was announced by the Opposition. We blew the whistle on this proposal to get rid of a central feature of Canberra's health fabric, a feature that has been here for over 20 years. It was originally intended by the then Whitlam Government to be a model for health centres around Australia, something which had not been carried forward.
Mrs Carnell: So why did you let it run down?
MR CONNOLLY: It provided, under Labor, in a unique manner, access to total bulk-billing services for the people of Canberra. There was a combination of public and private doctors. Some private doctors rented space, but there was a core of salaried general practitioners. We explained when we last debated this why we felt that it was essential that there be salaried doctors. The Assembly was not with us on that issue, Mr Speaker. The Labor Party argued for retaining the salaried doctors, but we were not able to take the majority of the Assembly with us, and we accept that. We do not like it, but we lost.
Members who were not inclined to support Labor clearly did so on the basis of promises from this Government, and this Chief Minister in particular. It is the rapidly reducing currency of the word of the Chief Minister that should be of grave concern to members of the Government frontbench and their supporters on the backbench, because we are seeing an increasing pattern, on issue after issue, where the Chief Minister says, "Trust us; do not worry; it will be fixed up; it will be all right". As a result of those promises, Independent members, particularly Independent members and Green members who have only