Page 3578 - Week 10 - Tuesday, 26 August 2008

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I think we just need to put this into perspective. This has been a political stunt from the word go. After my agreement to establishing this committee, with this supposedly wonderful bipartisan support and spirit of cooperation, Mrs Burke and, I think, several others, came into the Assembly and managed to attack me personally and also the government in their responses to the motion before them. I think that was disappointing from the word go.

I took the opportunity to appear before the committee and outline in great detail for the committee all of the areas that the ACT government has been working on in relation to supporting our GP sector in the ACT. I have not had the opportunity to read the report from whoa to go, but I will be disappointed if that is not reflected in the report, because there are a whole range of things that the ACT government has done. Mrs Burke says we have sat on our hands while Rome burned. If these issues are outlined in the report, that is a credit to the committee.

I would say that, again, from looking at it very quickly, a unanimous report which does not go to any of the issues that the Liberals have announced in their policy would seem to condemn the Liberal policy—as we all know, that is the creation of bulk-billing centres that cannot bulk-bill. I think the fact that the Liberal member did not put in a dissenting report and attach all the ideas that the Liberals are trumpeting goes to the fact that there are so many holes in that policy that they are embarrassed. On their first opportunity to put it before the Assembly, they have failed to do so. Was Mrs Burke just asleep at the wheel while this report was being put together?

The issue of general practitioners and how we best support our existing workforce and work with all stakeholders—that does include corporate entities—is one which every government that is formed in this place will need to tackle. It needs realistic solutions; it needs achievable solutions; it needs solutions where there is consultation with the existing industry. Of course, the Liberals’ policy, as announced, fails on all of those fronts. There has been no consultation with the existing industry, and, in fact, from all the approaches I have had about it, they are certainly not supportive of the plans outlined by the Liberals last week.

Mrs Burke accuses me of doing absolutely nothing and failing to consult, not making available land and not talking to anyone. I was up-front, again, from the word go about this. The ACT government does and can do things in relation to supporting approaches, where we have had them, around Wanniassa, and I have been approached now by, I think, four different groups of general practitioners seeking land in Wanniassa. So my response has been to look for land in Wanniassa, look for land that allows a medical practice to be established, and I have found some land. Yes, it does sit within Billson Place, but that is the extent to which those discussions have gone. There is enormous interest, and the thing that governments need to do—I know that although some of those opposite may understand this, Mrs Burke does not—is work with those approaches when you get them and put them forward through the channels that they need to go through. As a government, we need to look at the ways we can respond. One of the ways we can respond is by looking at what land is available for the establishment of another medical practice in Wanniassa. That is exactly what we have done.

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