Page 3370 - Week 09 - Wednesday, 20 August 2008

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We look at it and we say, “Give us a look at your costings”—that is what the Minister for Health has put in hers—“by 5 o’clock today.” Do you know what I am going to be looking for in that costing, Mr Speaker? I trust those opposite to provide us with that information, because I know that trust would never be misplaced. I trust that in that policy will be the restoration of the 114 beds they took out in the first place. I do not remember Mr Seselja saying anything about that on the radio.

Mrs Burke: This is about GPs, not—

MR SPEAKER: Order, Mrs Burke! I have called you to order once before. I warn you.

MR HARGREAVES: We are talking about a government which is putting a viable process and a vision on the table well ahead of the election. This Minister for Health has come into the cabinet with guns blazing and has walked out with a significant contribution to the health of people in the ACT. And we put it on the table before the election. What we are seeing here is full of promise.

Basically, what we are hearing from Mr Seselja, the leader of the A team, is “trust me”. We will trust them when we see the numbers. We will trust them to restore the 114 beds. I do not think they can do it. But we have already done it. That is the issue, Mr Speaker. What we are seeing in the Minister for Health’s amendment is what we promised to do. With her usual modesty, she has not told us about all of the things that she has done, but as a recent patient in that hospital I saw it for myself today. I thank the good Lord that it was Canberra Hospital I was able to go to.

MRS BURKE (Molonglo) (4.45): In wrapping up, let me say that it is a disappointment that the government would seek to radically change the mood of the motion. But that is the case. Unlike Labor, we will not turn away graduates of the ANU medical school who want to stay in Canberra. We will offer internships when Labor refuses to. This is not competing with existing GPs: the vast majority of GPs operate only until 6.00 pm or 8.00 pm; after 10.00 pm, even the largest corporate practices have closed their doors. This policy is about filling that market gap and taking pressure off the hospital emergency departments. We will not compete with private practices during normal office hours.

The minister forgot to say this, I think, or made some allusion to it: the commonwealth Health Insurance Act 1973 allows the commonwealth to enter arrangements with states and territories for such services. We recognise that this will require negotiation, which is what we have said. Labor says that it is a commonwealth problem. We say that it is unacceptable that the ACT has the worst access to GPs. We will not buck pass; we will take responsibility for addressing the problem. The challenge is now on Labor to match our solutions and to match our commitment and new funding where it is needed, not just in bricks and mortar.

Canberrans do not choose when they fall sick. Unfortunately, most of Canberra’s GP clinics shut shop at the end of the office day. We will bring down the cost of the service by using nurses in combination with doctors. The locations for the three new centres have been chosen on the basis of greatest distance from Canberra’s hospitals and on the shortage of regular GP services in these three geographical areas and as

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