Page 4835 - Week 15 - Wednesday, 14 December 2005

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hospitals. I do so in the context that this is one of those infrastructure projects that the Liberal Party were going to do. They were going to do it, they were committed to it, but they never spent any money on it, they never invested in the budget to make it happen. They were happy to take credit maybe for the idea but not to go ahead and do it. In contrast, this government has gone on and is doing it.

Over the past week, I have been very pleased to be able to inspect the progress with the construction of the ANU Medical School building at the Canberra Hospital campus, which is quite well advanced and is on track to be completed in March of next year. I also had the pleasure of helping commence work on the refurbishment of facilities for the new medical school at the Calvary campus.

The Canberra Hospital campus will accommodate the headquarters of the Canberra clinical school of the ANU Medical School. There will be a new health library for all ACT Health employees and health science students, tutorial rooms, a lecture theatre that will seat about 120 people, and teaching areas. Canberra Hospital will be the principal teaching hospital for the ANU Medical School and this new building will be a focal point for its activities. It complements the recent developments in medical education that the government has been supporting already at Canberra Hospital.

The faculty will include the Canberra clinical school and a rural and community clinical school which, between them, will supervise the activities of students in their third and fourth years. It is particularly pleasing that the construction is on time and the building is expected to be open for the student intake next year, as I have already indicated. The facility will cost approximately $12.1 million and is coming in on budget.

What is really important about this facility is not just that we are teaching our own doctors but that we are providing facilities for teaching our doctors, which will mean that they will be more likely to stay in Canberra, that we will grow our own medical work force. That will mean that we will be able to address some of the significant shortages we now face concerning general practitioners, medical specialists and clinicians in the primary and acute care areas of our health system. We know that doctors are more likely to stay where they train. Plans for the ANU Medical School had been on the drawing board for some time and it is very pleasing to see this project well and truly under way.

Equally, the refurbishment of one of the existing buildings at Calvary Hospital—in fact, the complete gutting and refurbishment of that building—will accommodate medical students who will be on site at that campus from February of next year. Calvary has designated an area within their existing building that will become the Calvary annexe of the ANU Medical School. This internal refurbishment is due to be completed by March of next year.

ACT taxpayers, through the ACT government, are investing in this very important facility by providing $1.75 million towards the refurbishment of this building. Once finished, this building will include four problem-based learning and tutorial education rooms, a new and improved library with 12 computer stations, a students’ common room, a kitchenette, and reception and administration areas. The first students are expected to arrive at Calvary in February to undertake part of their clinical placement.

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