Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2008 Week 08 Hansard (Thursday, 7 August 2008) . . Page.. 3080 ..
be done on a bipartisan basis. I do not know which definition of “bipartisan” Mrs Burke was working on, but the last time I looked “bipartisan” meant that you agree to work together on an issue without blaming each other. Unfortunately, it is the “without blaming each other” part that Mrs Burke seems to have forgotten. Instead, she chooses to resort to resort to the normal political point-scoring that we expect from those opposite. If she truly wanted a bipartisan approach, I would have expected her to say, “We want to join with you and with other members to see if there is anything that can be done on this matter.”
As the Minister for Health said in her answers during question time, the challenge for all of us is that this very disappointing closure is the result of a decision made by a private company. It is not a decision made by a government; it is not a decision where a government can direct a private company to do otherwise. It is simply not something that the government can halt. That is the point that the Minister for Health made earlier on today.
If the will is there, in all parts of the Assembly, to look at this matter and allow people to have a voice on this matter, and perhaps it can be used to put pressure on Primary Health Care, that is a positive thing. But the point must be made that we should not use this to give people false hope that there is some power intrinsic to the government or the Assembly to direct this private company on how it conducts its business—because there is not. We all know that. We should be honest with the community. We should be honest with the community about that.
As long as we are not giving people false hope, this is a worthwhile thing to do. I know—I have every confidence—that the Labor members will conduct themselves in this inquiry with that in mind and will take every opportunity to highlight the inequitable nature of Primary Health Care’s decision and the impact it will have on people who find it more difficult to get to alternative GP services. At the same time, we will not seek to hold out a hope that in some way, with a magic wand, government action or Assembly action can change the decision of this private company. That is the careful path that we need to tread.
The government welcomes the opportunity to be involved. I know that my Labor colleagues, particularly those members who are from Brindabella, will take every opportunity to highlight this issue. We look forward to participating in the debate.
MR SESELJA (Molonglo—Leader of the Opposition) (5.04): I commend my colleague Mrs Burke for bringing this forward. It is difficult to take a bipartisan approach with the government on this when the government have said that they cannot do anything and they are not going to do anything. That is the lesson here today: Mrs Burke, on behalf of the Liberal opposition, is seeking answers. There is no easy answer. We all know that. We all know that there has been a private decision made by a private practice.
We are concerned about the outcome of that. We should be concerned about the thousands of people who rely on this important medical facility. I know that members of my own family have, and I think that years ago I used to attend this very medical centre. Many people in the valley take advantage of this clinic. We should be looking for answers. That is what this is about. If it comes to the end of it and we say,