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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1995 Week 10 Hansard (7 December) . . Page.. 2803 ..

MRS CARNELL: I should say that I will refer your question immediately to Carmen Lawrence. What you are actually saying in that question is that the Federal Government's Medicare system is not working in this country. If there are low income earners in this country who cannot get access to GP services, I can tell you what; it is not this Government's fault. It is a Federal Government responsibility, as I have said regularly.

We have said time and time again that we believe that, wherever possible, we should get 100 per cent bulk-billing GPs into our health centres. We have said, though, that, if that is not possible, we hope that this Assembly at some stage in the future will accept bulk-billing GPs who bulk-bill people who are on pensions, health care card holders and low income earners. That is the best that this Government can do under the circumstances. Like you, I want to make sure that everybody has access to primary health care. Primary health care is not only GPs; they are important, but they are not all of it. Our responsibility is to provide all the ancillary services that go with primary health care in this city - things like physiotherapy in our centres, social work, dietitians, child health and so on. We will be concentrating on the services that we are responsible for and making sure that they are the best that is possible in Australia.

Government Service - Enterprise Bargaining

MR WHITECROSS: Mr Speaker, my question without notice is to Mr De Domenico in his capacity as the Minister for Industrial Relations. Mr De Domenico, why have you adopted a practice of sending consultants to conduct enterprise bargaining negotiations with the unions instead of using your own industrial relations staff?

MR DE DOMENICO: I thank Mr Whitecross for his question. Mr Speaker, this Government will send whoever it wants to send to negotiate on its behalf. It will not send those people that are acceptable to either the Trades and Labour Council or the Opposition. You have asked about Mr Houlihan, perhaps, or somebody else. As I said, this Government will continue to send whoever it thinks is best qualified to represent the Government's viewpoints in those negotiations.

MR WHITECROSS: I ask a supplementary question. Minister, am I to take it from that that you do not believe that your own staff are capable of presenting the kind of bargaining approach that you want, and you therefore have to use consultants with a particular style of bargaining in order to achieve the outcomes that the Government is trying to get from this enterprise bargaining round?

MR DE DOMENICO: The short answer, Mr Speaker, is no. However, I should explain to Mr Whitecross. I will repeat it for him. This Government will send whoever it sees fit to send in order to represent the views that this Government wants to put across. It will not ask permission from either Mr Whitecross or the Trades and Labour Council. As much as the Trades and Labour Council might disregard the services of Mr Houlihan, he is a very qualified person in terms of negotiating industrial relations.

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