Page 3590 - Week 10 - Tuesday, 26 August 2008

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If we were to draw the inference that Mrs Burke would have us believe—that is, that Primary Health Care is a key stakeholder—then the minister would be spending all her time in meetings with every general practitioner in this town. She does not need to do that, because she does it through the Division of General Practice and the AMA. It is a nonsense on the part of Mrs Burke to suggest that the minister has failed because she did not have more meetings with Primary Health Care, which would have achieved nothing anyway.

As the minister pointed out, even if the minister had had a meeting with Primary Health Care, it would not have necessarily changed their mind. Unfortunately, Primary Health Care’s modus operandi, might I suggest, is to try to attract GPs to go and work in their organisation. They have a particular model, and they aggressively seek out general practitioners to come and work for them. They do the administration which, I should say, is actually appealing to a number of general practitioners in this town. A number of general practitioners have willingly gone across to Primary Health Care centres in Phillip and Ginninderra. The general practitioner of a friend of mine has now gone to the Primary Health Care centre in Phillip, and has done so willingly. He got sent the invitation, and when Dr Sharma appeared before the committee, she talked about the fact that she gets on a regular basis an invitation—a glossy pamphlet—from Primary Health Care to go and work for them.

Mrs Burke talked about the media release that I put out as chair of the committee saying that it supported the Liberals’ policy. Mrs Burke, it did no such thing. I would suggest that Mrs Burke go back and read the press release to actually check what it said. The minister answered a number of the absurd comments and criticisms that had been put forward by Mrs Burke, and I reiterate the points that she made. Then we get on to Mr Smyth, who said, “We started the process with the medical school.” As you well know, Mr Speaker, it was you who started the clinical medical school, and you funded it. The people opposite might have started some sort of process, but they certainly did not fund it.

As we all know, Mr Smyth likes to twist words and take selective parts of reports and use them against the people that he sees as his enemy. Mr Smyth misquoted Ms Gallagher. Ms Gallagher was referring to the ACT government’s ability to reverse the decision of the Wanniassa medical centre and the ACT government’s ability to keep GP practices open. It is a federal government responsibility. Mr Smyth misses the point that it is the federal government that has the power to change things, and that is exactly what the ACT minister has continuously said.

I also need to make the following comment: Mr Smyth made some comments about the rally and the fact that the minister did not make the time to go down to it. I believe that the minister had an engagement here—it is called a sitting day, and she was required to be here for that. Minister Hargreaves could not make it because he was in cardiac rehabilitation. He was keen for me to point that out, because he would have been there if he could have been, it being in his electorate. I, of course, would have been there, but I was representing the ACT Assembly at the CPA conference in Malaysia.

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