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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 1 Hansard (19 February) . . Page.. 145 ..

MS DUNDAS (continuing):

The report from the nurse practitioner trial was released in December. Despite this report showing that the scheme was a great success, we are still waiting on word from the government. As we have no firm commitment of funds, we are still unsure just how many nurse practitioners will be operating in the ACT.

In November 2002, Ms Tucker brought forward a motion on the same issue. The non-government parties called on the government to produce a report on what it was doing to help solve the GP shortage. During this debate, I floated the idea that the ACT government reconsider employing GPs in community medical centres at a sufficiently attractive pay rate, therefore improving access to bulk-billing doctors. I believe most of the employed GPs were sacked by the previous government and that, as a result of that, access to bulk-billing doctors has declined. The motion in November demanded that the report be tabled by the December sittings-thankfully it was.

The report was largely a buck-passing one, blaming the federal government for all of the ills. Whilst, in his speech, Mr Hargreaves mentioned a number of strategies in which the local government is taking part, we are seeing, again and again, a continuation of the buck-passing and the pointing of fingers at the federal government as being the main problem.

We blame the federal government for the shortage of GPs and the decline in bulk-billing. We now also blame them for the failure of the private health rebate scheme. There is no question that the federal government has a huge impact on health services here in the ACT, but there are a number of strategies the ACT government should be implementing to reduce the problem in the local sphere.

I would like to see the ACT government make a real commitment to nurse practitioners, reconsider the employment of GPs in community medical centres and get their federal ALP colleagues to either oppose means tests or cap the monumental failure that is the private health insurance rebate scheme, so we can then move from passing the buck to solving the problem.

MR CORBELL (Minister for Health and Minister for Planning) (11.43): I seek leave to move the amendment circulated in my name.

Leave granted.


Add the following new paragraph:

"(4) notes that the Government will outline its overall response to addressing these issues including relevant timeframes for implementation, once the Australian Healthcare Agreement negotiations are finalised."

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