Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2009 Week 05 Hansard (Wednesday, 1 April 2009) . . Page.. 1634 ..
Mr Hanson: I am saying if you had introduced these sorts of measure a lot earlier, we might have had more of an idea about what we could do from the government.
MS GALLAGHER: What you do not understand, Mr Hanson, is that this work has been ongoing for three years, but the landscape is changing now. The turbulence we are seeing in GP land now is—
Mr Hanson: GP land?
MS GALLAGHER: Well, yes, GP land, and that incorporates small practices, the medium practices and the large new corporate structures. In fact, a couple more are opening up in coming months. That landscape is changing and the pressure on the suburban GPs is considerable. GPs are making decisions about their own workload and their own commitments to their businesses. That is a significant change that we have been watching over the past 12 months.
What this motion does is call on the government—it will be done through the task force—to consider any possible legislative responses to this, and I think it is a fair piece of work. I want to look at the pros and cons of moving down a legislative model. I do not want to put additional pressure on general practice through legislation; that is not the aim of the work that the task force will be doing.
We need to look at how we are supporting existing general practice now, and we need to make sure we are fostering the workforce for the future. That is the work that the task force will be doing, and that is the work that this Assembly should embrace. When that report is tabled, we should work through the recommendations that that task force presents the Assembly with and work on delivering those two areas—support for existing general practice and fostering the next generation of general practitioners. That is the only way this workforce shortage will be solved.
MS PORTER (Ginninderra) (11.34): I thank members for their contributions to this debate this morning. I will not be supporting Mr Hanson’s amendment. I think Mr Hanson misses the point entirely; he still does not get it. He has been here for quite some considerable time, but he still does not get the fact that this is a private business we are talking about. We are talking about business decisions. It is rather like a supermarket, for instance. Any business can choose to close or relocate their business or change the focus of their business at any time. The motion we are addressing today is, of course, about the manner in which it is done. We are talking about the abrupt closure of this practice.
Of course, Mr Hanson has totally disregarded everything that the Minister for Health has said on this point in this place over and over again. She said it last term and she has repeated it this term. Of course, Mr Hanson was not around when the minister first gave evidence before the previous inquiry into the Wanniassa health centre. Of course, he was not here to listen to the evidence given to that committee by the health minister at the time. He was not here to hear the evidence given to that committee by the general practitioners. So I guess he can be forgiven for actually not understanding what was going on. However, he has been here since he was elected, and he has not