Page 3582 - Week 10 - Tuesday, 26 August 2008
MR SMYTH: The minister interjects, “The ACT government.” It is not her now; she will hide behind the skirts of the ACT government. The committee itself listed several things that the government can do. The committee were able to come up with things. You have got a whole department. You have got a legal section; you have got a planning minister. You have got a cabinet, but the collective wit of cabinet could not come up with anything to do. That is the shame of this cabinet: they have run their time and they are out of ideas.
As to the apologist that we have for a health minister, she had not even spoken to Dr Bateman. There it is again: on 14 August the minister said there was no reason for her to talk to Dr Bateman. They were about to close the clinic that stretches from Kambah in the west across to Wanniassa that had soaked up the old medical practice at Mannheim Street, Kambah, and that had soaked up the old practice that used to be at Monash, but there was no reason to talk to Dr Bateman. Well, I would have thought there were tens of thousands of reasons—they are called constituents, and they are called patients. But, no, the government just accepted the decision because, “We’re not interested and we didn’t care, and we didn’t have the wit or the wherewithal to come up with a single idea.”
Through Mrs Burke, the Assembly was able to come up with the first idea. The committee has come up with a number of ideas in its report. Check the rest; make sure they are compliant. I would have thought that there were grounds to look at the use of market force and perhaps have a reference to the ACCC. I am disappointed that that is not in there. I acknowledge that they are a private firm, but even private firms operating in a commercial way are subject to law, at both federal and state and territory levels. Indeed, if you had local government, they would be subject to law at the local government level as well. They are subject to law, and those laws are in place, by and large, to protect the community. The minister has not looked at it, and, unfortunately, the committee did not look at it—I do not know why, I was not able to attend the committee hearings—but I would have thought that, when you have a ravenous absorption in the marketplace of numerous small businesses that are then consolidated further and further afield from where those services were delivered, it would be reasonable to look at that whole issue of market force and the abuse of market force. There is another idea for you, minister—the minister who has no ideas. There is something else perhaps you could follow up, and perhaps you can come back and tell us whether or not it is appropriate.
There are lots of comments in the report. I know somebody always finds the typo, but as I flicked backwards, the first thing I saw was the email from Mr Russell Tall—I think his name is Roger. It is signed “Roger Tall”, but perhaps that is a small thing. The number of submissions received is interesting. For an inquiry that was conducted in a very short period of time, to receive 10 submissions and to have the number of people appear who did appear, shows the level of angst in the community and the fact that they are looking to us for leadership—leadership they have not got.
It is interesting that the minister has said that she was concerned and that, having supposedly done all that she could do—she has not done anything that she could do—she attempted to attack Mrs Burke. That is standard operating procedure for the