Page 3577 - Week 10 - Tuesday, 26 August 2008

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higher house prices, higher rental prices and higher taxes, so people are hit every which-way.

I note that the ACT Division of General Practice reported having no formal relationship with Primary Health Care despite, as is stated in the report, many of the doctors employed by Primary Health Care also being members of the ACT Division of General Practice. I am pleased to inform the Assembly that the ACT Division of General Practice advised the committee, as our report says, that they would be seeking to initiate a relationship to “see whether or not there is anything we can offer or we can understand better from them”. That is a great start. I think it is a pity that that had not been done. We often talk in this place about health tsunamis. I think this is something we could have seen coming if we had been watching what was happening in other jurisdictions, particularly in New South Wales, where takeover after takeover has been happening.

Mr Speaker, I will leave it there. I know that we have a busy day before us. This has been a very important inquiry. It has been a very important matter that needed to be brought before this Assembly. I note in the media release that even Ms MacDonald is supporting the Liberals’ policy. She says—and I think this is a very truthful statement from the chair:

The Committee found that it is not just about building new medical centres but it is about having the GPs to staff those centres.

The media release continues:

Ms MacDonald said easing the shortage of GPs practising in the ACT is the key to ensuring all ACT residents have access to timely and appropriate medical services.

I think Ms MacDonald is quite right. I think it is a shame that the government of which she has been a part has been quite relaxed and slack about it. Whilst watching Rome burn around us, we could have done more. I am sure there are other initiatives that could have been brought in. Of course, the Liberals have made their plan quite clear about what we will do to address GP shortages. I will be delighted to take up this matter in the next Assembly, God willing, if I am re-elected. If I am not, I am sure my colleagues will take this up because it is something that we will need to look at in the future. I thank members for their support. I thank the chair and my fellow committee member, Ms Porter. We commend the report to the Assembly.

MS GALLAGHER (Molonglo—Minister for Health, Minister for Children and Young People, Minister for Disability and Community Services, Minister for Women) (11.14): Thank you for the opportunity to speak today. We have just heard quite outrageous statements from Mrs Burke in her speech, trying to blame what is essentially a commercial decision by a private operator on the ACT government. When Mrs Burke approached me about instigating this committee, I was very agreeable to it. I wanted the committee to genuinely look at the issue of attracting and retaining general practitioners and probably a bit less at the issue of the Wanniassa clinic, because, as far as I could see, there was not a great deal we could do about that. I have been honest about that from the beginning. Those who pretended there was something we could do have been dishonest in their statements around that.

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