Page 3969 - Week 11 - Tuesday, 15 Sept 2009

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Leave granted.

MS GALLAGHER: It gives me great pleasure today to table the General practice and sustainable primary health care—the way forward report, prepared by the ACT GP Taskforce.

In March of this year, following a series of practice closures in Canberra, the ACT government decided to do something about the GP shortage. As a result, I established—

Mr Hanson: Really? It wasn’t the day after the motion in the Assembly then, was it?

MS GALLAGHER: It was not. In fact it was not; it was the day—

Mr Hanson: Oh, in fact it was—25 March followed by 26 March. Read the motion.

MS GALLAGHER: If you go back to the debate, Mr Hanson, you will see that I indicated in debate on that motion exactly what we were going to do. It is just that you were not paying attention.

As a result, I established the ACT GP Taskforce to investigate the general practice and primary healthcare workforce shortage issue and other related matters. I emphasised very early on to the ACT GP Taskforce that Canberra needs innovative solutions.

The final report of the task force, containing 30 recommendations, comes after close to six months of intense consultation and investigation by the GP Taskforce and provides some interesting and innovative recommendations. The final report confirms that our existing general practice and primary healthcare workforce shortages and the associated challenges are likely to be maintained, and possibly intensify, in the immediate and near future.

At the time of the release of the GP Taskforce discussion paper in June of this year, I said that the general practice workforce challenges facing Canberra were significant and would not be addressed overnight. The reality is that we need to look forward. We need to put in place short, medium and long-term strategies for sustainability. While the report contains positive opportunities and vision, it also notes that the journey to get all the building blocks in place is likely to take some time.

Of the 30 recommendations, the final report contains notable proposals to focus efforts on international recruitment in the next four years; to consider ways to incentivise general practice in the ACT with a low interest or interest-free loan scheme—

Mr Hanson: Wasn’t that our policy at the last election?

MS GALLAGHER: focus efforts on promoting the ACT as a unique location—

Mr Hanson: You scoffed at it then.

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