Page 3214 - Week 09 - Tuesday, 19 August 2008
commonwealth. They are not the responsibility of the ACT government. The ACT opposition, having taken the policy decision and now decided that it is the ACT government’s responsibility to fund private GP practices through capital improvements, through incentives and then supposedly run a bulk-billing service of their own—which, as I have already gone through, they cannot do legally do—I do not think the commonwealth is going to say, “Okay, ACT, we’re going to allow you to cost shift directly to us and this will not be replicated across the country.”
The policy decision that the ACT opposition are taking is that they will stop looking after the public health system in the ACT, the public hospital infrastructure and the public delivery of services, and their key focus will now be on the private health system. We notice in today’s Canberra Times that Mr Seselja has endorsed my vision for the health infrastructure plan of the future. I think that just shows that there is nowhere for the Liberals to separate themselves on public health. They have accepted our plan. The only place for them to go now is to fund private general practice, to take the decision that a Liberal government, which is usually about a free market and allowing small business to operate on a level playing field, is going to directly intervene in the market, support one group of GPs over another and mislead the ACT community by saying that you can open three bulk-billing general practices across the ACT when you cannot do it. You know you cannot do it; you know you cannot deliver it. It is a promise that you cannot keep and you know it.
Mr Pratt: You bet we can.
MS GALLAGHER: It is a promise that you cannot keep and you know it.
Mr Pratt interjecting—
MR SPEAKER: Order!
MS GALLAGHER: All’s fair in love and war, isn’t it? You guys are going to campaign on a promise that you cannot keep and that is misleading the ACT community. You cannot deliver it. You are going to take $30 million out of the public health system to provide incentives in the private health system. What are you not going to build? Is there to be no mental health facility, no intensive care unit, no new women’s and children’s hospitals, no cancer centre of excellence—
Mr Pratt interjecting—
MR SPEAKER: I warn you, Mr Pratt.
MS GALLAGHER: Because you will be too busy focusing on your intervention in the private general practice market. That is where you are going to be. You are going to take your eye off the game. The ACT government’s job—it is the job of any government, regardless of political flavour—is to concentrate on public health services.
MR SPEAKER: Mr Pratt, just so you cannot claim you did not hear me, I warned you about interjecting.