Page 3367 - Week 09 - Wednesday, 20 August 2008

Next page . . . . Previous page . . . . Speeches . . . . Contents . . . . Debates(HTML) . . . . PDF . . . .

new bulk-billing centre, and a medical centre and a dental centre, at the intersection of Coulter Drive and Nettlefold Street. My doctor from Higgins went over there. He thought it would be really good because he would not have to do the paperwork. But it is very difficult to get to see your own doctor. Even some of the doctors are starting to find that in some of those centres too. There are some problems there and there are issues even there. It is a very real problem.

I was very concerned to see that, whilst we are training doctors here, there seems to be almost some sort of disincentive in terms of employing them here. Paragraph 2 (d) of Mrs Burke’s motion is very poignant here—to “help young GPs into private practice through the establishment of a Young GP Entrepreneurs Fund”. That is especially important if we are training doctors here in Canberra who we want to employ in Canberra but, when they leave medical school, they are going elsewhere. There is absolutely nothing to assist them or encourage them to get into the workforce here. In fact, it seems that there is actual discouragement, from what I read in relation to that.

That is a very important initiative. We are now starting to train young GPs. We want them to stay here. We want them to get out there into the outer suburbs. We want them to remain in Canberra and satisfy that huge shortage. It has been well known over the last few years in Canberra that we have the lowest number of bulk-billing doctors in the country. A lot of people interstate could not give a stuff about that. They think: “Oh, you know, Canberra silvertails. Bugger them. Who cares?” But it is a very real problem here. There are not too many silvertails in west Belconnen or down in the south and areas of Tuggeranong—socioeconomic areas where there are people with some real problems. I hark back to the 20 or so people every week who the chemist at Charnwood helps out. They simply do not have the wherewithal or the means to even get over to casualty at Calvary.

All of these initiatives which Mrs Burke outlines are good ones and are worthy of being welcomed. Even Dr Foskey commented favourably in relation to initiatives to establish bulk-billing clinics in south Tuggeranong, Gungahlin and west Belconnen.

We need to encourage people to practise here. I have spoken about young doctors leaving the medical school and the concern over it. I am not even going to blame the ACT government for that; I think it was something that originated from the university. Correct me if I am wrong and the ACT government had a hand to play there, in which case I castigate them. But it seemed to be from another source. It does seem to be utterly crazy not to encourage our own home-grown doctors to stay here. That is crucially important.

Paragraph 2 (c) says “guarantee internship places at The Canberra Hospital to all ANU Medical School graduates who want one”. Again, that is a means of keeping young doctors here in Canberra. That is crucially important with our doctor shortage. And the rest of the country has a doctor shortage. It is crucially important that we do all we can to ensure that people stay here in Canberra and that we get as many here as possible. Similarly, the motion refers to “an incentive fund to encourage general practitioners (GPs) from interstate to relocate in the ACT”. We are trying to do that in all areas in terms of skilled immigration into the territory. What more important area is there than medical service?

Next page . . . . Previous page . . . . Speeches . . . . Contents . . . . Debates(HTML) . . . . PDF . . . .