Page 3320 - Week 09 - Wednesday, 20 August 2008

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intervention services, population health, community-based care and good-quality infrastructure. The commonwealth is responsible for the provision and support of private medicine practice, including GPs. The commonwealth does not support, and never has supported—in the ACT, at least, and I am sure it is the same for every other place—the possibility of states and territories employing GPs who can bulk-bill.

What we have here is a major and very significant diversion from practice by all governments around Australia being announced as part of the Liberal Party’s centrepiece for health care—that they will accept commonwealth responsibility; they will fund commonwealth responsibilities; and, consistent with a bulk-billing arrangement, they will accept the responsibility for paying the wage of GPs—government employed GPs providing services consistent with those that are provided under a bulk-billing service.

That was not the position yesterday morning. The position yesterday morning was that these would be bulk-billing GP centres. By the time we got to WIN news last night, there was a clear, emphatic, unambiguous, new position by the Leader of the Opposition: “Oh, no, these centres were never intended to be funded by the commonwealth. That was never our intention. We called them bulk-billing because we didn’t quite understand what we were saying and we didn’t understand the legislation. We thought we could just pass this through to the commonwealth.” The commonwealth does not permit that; the legislation does not permit that. You do not have agreement from the commonwealth to open a bulk-billing centre anywhere in the ACT; nor will you get it. Your promise—

Mr Smyth: You’re upset by this, aren’t you?

MR STANHOPE: I am not a bit upset. I am upset that a party that has spent the last four years fighting amongst itself—that has jettisoned four deputies and three leaders, that has done nothing but squabble, backbite, change leaders, jockey for position, expel members, dump deputy leaders and sack leaders—is now prepared to say and do anything, even promise things that are not consistent with the law, promise things that cannot be delivered and promise things that have not been properly costed.

You need to go to that. One assumes—this is relevant to the amendment that Ms Gallagher will move—that the costings that have been released by the Liberal Party in relation to this bulk-billing centre were costed on the basis originally announced by the Leader of the Opposition, that the commonwealth would agree to bulk-billing. From the fact that the Leader of the Opposition has now explicitly informed WIN that it was never his intention that there be bulk-billing, it was never his intention that there be a commonwealth contribution, one assumes that the shift between 9 am and 6 pm distorts the costings completely. Are the costings provided—of $8 million, $8.9 million, followed by $8.9 million, followed by $7 million plus $5 million of capital—the real costs or should we essentially double those costings?

That leads to the other issue in relation to this particular promise and why we know that it is just one of those wild promises that an opposition in disarray and despair make, a promise that they know they can make and that is made only on the basis that they know they will never implement it. Can we assume that of the other promises made on the record? They are on the record and they have been costed. I think they

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