Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 1 Hansard (19 February) . . Page.. 149 ..
MR SMYTH (Leader of the Opposition) (11.55): Mr Speaker, I move the amendment circulated in my name entitled the new Part 4.
Add the following new paragraph:
"(4) and calls on the ACT Government to honour its election commitment to establish at least two after-hours clinics staffed by general practitioners, and examine the need to extend this service to Tuggeranong and Gungahlin.".
To read it so that there is clarity, it says to insert the new part (4) and calls on the ACT government to honour its election commitment to establish at least two after-hours clinics staffed by general practitioners and examine the need to extend this service to Tuggeranong and Gungahlin.
Mr Speaker, this is about holding governments accountable. They went to the election with these policies and they have not happened. They are part of the solution to the problem which confronts all of us here today.
I note Ms Tucker's concerns about whether it is just Tuggeranong and Gungahlin. I think she is right-that is what the government said in their platform. If somebody wishes to extend that and include words like "and other areas of need", I would have no dilemma with that.
The work has been done. We set up the trial of clinics run by GPs. The government said, in the lead-up to the election, that they would review that, improve it if necessary, and then extend it. It is part of the solution. It will take pressure off accident and emergency departments. By having clinics in other areas like Tuggeranong and Gungahlin, we will overcome some of the dilemmas-that services provided on the hospital grounds are not covered by the rebate.
The point is that there are some things the local government can do immediately. This was their own idea and suggestion and I think they should follow it up. I certainly agree they should follow up with the federal government on extending rebates, undertaking reviews and getting extra assistance from the states and territories. That is what we were doing. We would seek the support of the Assembly to achieve that.
MR HARGREAVES (11.57): We will not be supporting this amendment-I certainly will not be supporting it, anyway. I have been involved in discussions with the departments of health and the minister's office about the need to extend these sorts of services to Tuggeranong and then ultimately to Gungahlin. I have done that while this government has been in office.
The reason I oppose this is because the government has in fact honoured its election commitments. It has looked at trying to establish the two after-hours clinics. You might note that there is one free clinic at Calvary Hospital. You might note also that you cannot put a free clinic on our own public hospital campuses, because people cannot get the Medicare rebate-the bulk-billing rebate. Nevertheless, the department has been exploring with the Commonwealth ad nauseam the possibility of providing the two after-hours clinics. The department has advised me of it because I was asking a question about it. You will also know that you cannot staff something with GPs if you cannot get the GPs-and you just cannot get them.