Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2008 Week 10 Hansard (Tuesday, 26 August 2008) . . Page.. 3584 ..
of services should be available in any one region and then look at ways to achieve it. Of course, that will involve the federal government and it will involve private practitioners. But someone needs to get up there with the will and with the vision. I would say the vision is already out there in the community; so it is a matter of coordinating those groups, bringing them together, having the discussion and saying, “What kinds of services do we want, and how can we get them?”
I think that the abrupt closure of the Wanniassa medical centre was a big shock to our community. It made people realise how little control we have at the moment over that most basic service—the provision of health and medical services. We have let the privatisation and globalisation of health services go too far. It is not going to be possible to pull it right back, but there are ways that we can ameliorate the impact. I know that the Minister for Health has exactly that aim. I just would like to have seen a recommendation in the report to that effect.
MRS DUNNE (Ginninderra) (11.38): I welcome this report. Like my colleague Mr Smyth, I congratulate Mrs Burke on initiating the inquiry that has brought about this report. While I am conscious of the short time frame—we all understood that this was a very short time frame—there are some aspects of this report that disappoint me a little as someone who is very concerned about the impact of the lack of general practice in my own electorate.
I know that this is an inquiry that relates to the Wanniassa medical centre, and I am not a member for Brindabella, but there are lessons to be learnt here, and there are things that we need to do to ensure that we do not see the same thing happening in west Belconnen. The thing that I am concerned about is that the Wanniassa medical centre and the Kippax family health centre were both owned by a company which was taken over by Primary Health Care. What happened in the case of the Wanniassa medical centre is that Primary Health Care absorbed and moved those doctors to another site, a more centralised site, which is a business argument. But it is not an argument that addresses the needs of the community.
I sought to speak about this in the debate to set up this committee, because I wanted to give some guidance. But the exigencies of the day made it impossible for me to do so because I was occupying the chair. I want to put on the record my concern about the fate of the Kippax family practice, because it is now also owned by Primary Health Care. I am very concerned that we will see the same pattern repeated where the Kippax family health centre will be closed and the doctors moved to a more central location in Belconnen. That is good business practice for the company called Primary Health Care, but it is not good for my constituents who live in west Belconnen, some of the most disadvantaged people in the ACT. They are at risk of losing their health practice.
Mr Smyth spoke very eloquently in the debate to set up this committee about people and how our concerns as representatives in the ACT first and foremost should be about our constituents. These are the people who now do not have easy access to their doctor; the people who, if they attend Primary Health Care in Phillip, may not be able to see the doctor who they have seen for a long period of time; the people who do not have the transport capacity to get them to this central location. The impact that this