Page 3365 - Week 09 - Wednesday, 20 August 2008

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corporatisation of GPs, where GPs who once competed in a particular area move into large joint practices thus eroding competition and making access to bulk billing less likely.

We cannot just stand here and watch it go into free fall; we have to intervene. Even the AMA talks about the fact that we as an ACT government have to ensure that the primary health market remains sustainable. It is our duty and our responsibility to provide services to people in our community, particularly those who can least afford it. Nicola Ballenden, the Consumers Association health policy officer, says:

Unfortunately, poorer people tend to have more health problems than the rest of the community which means that they, more than other groups, need to have timely access to primary care provided by GPs.

It says it here. The minister mocked the fact that they want to come in during the day. I have messages left on my office phone at all hours of the day and night from people wanting to talk. We know that they are trying to get help. What we have said is that we have a solution. We have come up with something that would help people who perhaps do not work normal hours. We will be looking at shift workers as well. We are looking at people who could not access a GP—particularly poorer people at the lower end of the socioeconomic scale. Nicola Ballenden goes on to say:

They are particularly disadvantaged by falling rates of bulk billing. People may wait until they are sicker or decide to go to public hospitals for treatment, despite the lengthy wait for service in emergency departments.

The government is trying to come up with more Wally words. It is not solving the problem. We on this side of the house have tried to come up with the solutions. All we get is ridicule. I am working. We will continue to work with all those people.

The government ridicule people for being some faceless people somehow out there that are advising the opposition. How ridiculous and naive of them to say it. There is a very good reason why very senior medical people in the ACT will not say it. It stands to reason. Anybody with a bit of common sense would understand that. What the government are saying here is that they are supporting their local workforce. To me, they have just let them flounder, for the most part, causing corporate takeovers, as I have just read out. That has been the result of that.

We have seen the government’s much-heralded $1 billion 10-year plan to overhaul the public health system. There was no detail in that. They may be yet to provide that—the full costings of all of that and what is going where. We have seen some of that and we have agreed to some of that. We are all working from the same bucket of money here, people seem to forget. We will target our spending in areas of greatest need where we believe that need to be.

The minister referred to “the complexity of the health care system and the need to provide responsible, realistic and achievable solutions”. Yes, obviously. We realise that. We have said that it is not a straightforward and simple solution. It has not just been thrown out. We have worked on this for a long time. We have consulted with many levels of the community for a long time.

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