Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2008 Week 10 Hansard (Tuesday, 26 August 2008) . . Page.. 3588 ..
I cannot let Minister Gallagher’s disingenuous comments about my colleague Mrs Burke go unchallenged. Is that the best you can do, a personal attack on Mrs Burke about her future? Is that the best that you can do?
Ms MacDonald: On a point of order, Mr Speaker: I seek your guidance as to whether or not Mr Pratt’s comments about the minister making disingenuous comments is unparliamentary.
MR SPEAKER: I think not. It is a term that has been used here many times, Ms MacDonald.
MR PRATT: Thank you, Mr Speaker. In fact, they were disingenuous, and they expressed a view about Mrs Burke’s future as a way of trying to distract from the substantial issues in this debate. That is, of course, because Mrs Burke quite clearly pointed out the obvious—that is, her opposite number, the minister, failed to act on this particular issue.
These clinics in our communities are so important. We need to see the strain taken off the hospital system. I have got a truckload of correspondence from constituents about the many stories of disappointment and their experiences with the hospital system. A close friend of mine, in fact, spent 12 hours on an ambulance stretcher in the emergency department. It is so regretful that this should occur. That is not an isolated story; that was an incident in January of this year. These incidents are far and wide. That is why we need to build the capacity; that is why we need to build health prevention and health administrative capacities out and away from our centralised hospital system.
Instead of seeing that, we saw the Wanniassa clinic closing down and we saw a government which simply said, “Oh, well, there’s nothing we can do about that.” If it had not been for the Assembly voting through the leadership exercised by Mrs Burke to undertake an inquiry, we would see nothing being done. This is a government that is bereft of ideas, moribund in its governance, and simply lacking in vision and care. Thank God there was at least an inquiry which came up with some rather useful recommendations. Hopefully, the minister will take note of them. You would hope that the minister could do something about some of these recommendations in the foreseeable future.
I actually want to read some components of an email from one of my constituents. She copied into this email a letter that she wrote to Dr Bateman about the Wanniassa clinic closure, which is the heart and soul of this report and this debate. It is very important that we put on the record at least part of what this constituent has said to Dr Bateman about the closing of the Wanniassa medical centre. I quote from Ms Taylor-Cannon:
I am writing to you to strongly express my concerns at your organisations decision to close the Wanniassa Medical Centre. I also want to say how insensitive the closure has been managed giving patients of the service less than two weeks notice which some people only found out about due to media coverage. I am aware that there are still some people as at this morning—