Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1995 Week 10 Hansard (5 December) . . Page.. 2627 ..
MR CONNOLLY (continuing):
We will fix it up. People will still be able to go into their health centre and see the doctors. There will be no problem". When the Assembly starts to get the bad smell of promises not being kept, a motion is put forward by Mr Osborne which simply requires the Government to stand by its promises, and it is all Mr Osborne's fault that the doctors are no longer in the health centres. What an extraordinarily tortured piece of logic, but how typical of Mrs Carnell's constant attempt to divert blame to anyone but herself or her Government.
The decision to sack the doctors, Mrs Carnell, was a decision that you took. The decision to get rid of something that has been a feature of the health centres in Canberra for over 20 years was one that you took. It was not something that you ever announced in your election campaign. It was not something that you announced you were doing when you were doing it. It became apparent only when we blew the whistle on your attempts by stealth to dismantle the health centre network. Then a motion was passed in this place which you were not game to divide on because you knew that you had lost the support of all of those members of the crossbenches. There was a clear expression of the will of the Assembly and you thumbed your nose at that. You went ahead and sacked the doctors, and paid out the redundancy payments on some vague sort of wish that you could replace the bulk-billing doctors.
Now we get conflicting views of that. Mrs Carnell says it is impossible to have 100 per cent bulk-billing doctors in the health centres. We see in the Chronicle today that a senior officer in Health says that the Government will keep its promise - a promise which Mrs Carnell, in the heat of political rhetoric, says is impossible. Mr Speaker, who knows what the truth of the matter is? What is clear is that this Assembly stated its clear will that members of the Canberra community must be able to continue to go to those health centres and, with their Medicare card, access general practitioner services. This motion, which we are forced to move because of the increasing concerns about statements by this Government which are not honoured, focuses on that as its primary aspect.
MRS CARNELL (Chief Minister and Minister for Health and Community Care) (11.45): I think that all I can say, to start with, is that this is hypocrisy, absolute blatant hypocrisy, from those opposite. I would like to quote Mr Connolly from 6 December 1994, which was not all that long ago. Mr Connolly said in this place:
We did move some doctors from Melba to Belconnen because we had a situation where there were more doctors at Melba than there were at Belconnen. Belconnen is far more central, it is served well by public transport and it is obviously the better place to be. I have said that; unlike the nonsensical rhetoric from the Liberals who, from time to time, seem to suggest that, unless you have government doctors, you do not have medicine in a community.