Page 3366 - Week 09 - Wednesday, 20 August 2008

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I will leave my comments there. What these amendments boil down to is that the Canberra Liberals have a policy for bringing more GPs to our suburbs, and Labor do not.

MR STEFANIAK (Ginninderra) (4.27): I want to add a few comments in relation to this debate. I will address the motion and the amendment together. In terms of the government’s predictable and typical amendment, I just make a little sensible suggestion to them. Why not just insert maybe (a) and (b)? The rest is just total self-praise as usual. Paragraphs (a) and (b) probably are not too bad, because that is motherhood and it is quite accurate. Of course we would all like to thank, and we appreciate, “the hard work of our primary health care industry, particularly our … GPs who continue to provide first-class health care despite workforce shortage”. Yes, we all applaud that, and we should thank them.

I am pleased to see them state that the commonwealth has got some responsibility here—even the Rudd commonwealth—noting “the responsibility of the Commonwealth to ensure adequate primary health care services are provided in our community”. No-one in this place is going to say that that is not a worthy statement.

The rest is typical politics—the typical self-laudatory praise by this government, which is just meaningless out there in the electorate. And there is the second paragraph, calling on the Leader of the Opposition to table certain documents. Again, that is just typical. But (a) and (b)—I would encourage you to add that. That is something we can all agree to.

We have just had a debate on education. As I said in that debate, there are two areas of government that are crucially important: health and education. If anything, health usually seems to come out number one and education number two, although there is not much in it, for obvious reasons. It is crucially important to all of it. It is crucially important that we have the best possible health system in all the circumstances that we can provide to the people of the ACT.

So Mrs Burke’s motion is a very timely one indeed. We do face a chronic shortage of doctors. The outer suburban areas are particularly badly affected. I can remember almost begging the doctor at Charnwood, saying, “Do you really have to go?” But he had had enough; he had other things to do. That practice closed up. The doctor at Macgregor—over 3,000 patients. He left; he also just wanted to do something else. West Belconnen is a crucial area where we do need those healthcare services. The chemist at the Charnwood shops regularly treats about 20 or 30 people on any one day, because they have trouble getting themselves over to Calvary.

Members interjecting—

MR SPEAKER: Order! Members, would you take the conversation outside, please.

MR STEFANIAK: That is a real indictment of the system. The shortage in west Belconnen is probably accentuated, but there are similarities in the rest of Canberra, especially in parts of the Tuggeranong area, compounded by the fact that the clinic in Wanniassa is set to close. Yes, doctors might try to alleviate the situation. There was a

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