Page 3575 - Week 10 - Tuesday, 26 August 2008

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assisted in retrieving information about their rights in relation to accessing those medical records. We also looked at the impact of Australian government legislation on the provision of GP services, particularly in the ACT. We do note that the minister tried, albeit in vain, to get the ACT recognised as a special case.

Ms Gallagher: It’s not true.

MRS BURKE: I will not respond to your interjection. Nicola Roxon said that at this stage she was not able to do anything to assist the ACT. I am not attacking the health minister; I am just referring to what I have read. If that is wrong then the health minister can correct that; that is fine.

I would like to raise some other things that emanate from this matter. The closure of the Wanniassa medical centre has been a failure for this government. It showed that the government is not talking to stakeholders. The minister, by her own admission in her evidence, when asked by the committee, “When was the last discussion with Primary Health Care?” said, “12 months ago.” My concern is that these are major stakeholders—one of the major providers of health services in the ACT and New South Wales. Whilst we cannot intervene in a business decision, I certainly think that we can have a better relationship than we have at the moment—let us put it that way.

The inquiry highlighted the government’s lack of proactivity in securing GPs for the territory. Lifting your hands up and saying that you can’t do anything is no defence and no excuse. The Liberals have a firm plan of action about what we will do. We have seen the government respond to that by offering blocks of land and talking about walk-in centres with no GPs.

In fact, I have some information that, again without any consultation with the community, the government has now identified a block of land in Wanniassa. The minister might agree with that or deny that, but I understand that has been quite clearly identified. I have got the address here: Billson Place, near Wanniassa Hills primary. People are very concerned that the government’s knee-jerk reaction to this is to say, “Don’t consult; we’ll just say we’re doing something,” when it can be seen to be an illusion. Again, it goes back to the whole matter of consultation: is that the best place for a medical centre to be located, if that is what the government is intending?

The inquiry also highlighted the difficulty of getting overseas GPs to work in the ACT. We are not talking about the necessary tight controls but just the slackness in failing even to convene a committee to assess an application in a timely way. I have had several representations made to me about this. Again, the defence will be: “Well, it’s a lot to do with the federal government.” My issues have been at a local level where things have been sat on for weeks on end. Nobody—and I make this very clear—is saying that we should fast track, ignore or just accept any qualification. I have never said that in this place. In fact, I feel I have been misrepresented on a couple of occasions by people in this place who suggest that I would say, “We’ll just rush people through and not look at their qualifications.”

This was a big issue quite some time ago, when a GP in the Ginninderra district tried to get somebody to come here. If we can help to alleviate or ameliorate some of those

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