Page 981 - Week 03 - Tuesday, 29 March 2011

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are heard. I have consulted with the AMA, as I believe the minister has, and with other organisations to seek their view on the inclusion of the word “medical practitioner”. This has been a matter of some debate over the last couple of days.

The AMA was concerned that if those words were removed, as proposed by the Greens, it could lead to the potential of the advisory council being formed without a doctor on it. I agree that that would be a concern and I foreshadow that we will be supporting the government’s amendment which actually seeks to include the words that they already have there that specify a medical practitioner but also add to it that you can have another clinical—I cannot remember the exact words—adviser to basically expand the council by one. I think that that is a neat solution. I give the indication I will be supporting the minister in that.

I give the indication now that we will also be supporting the government’s other amendments. They are more technical in nature. They relate to provisions that just basically tidy up the legislation to make sure the quorum of the council is appropriate and to specify that the annual report will be made public.

As I said before, this is a hospital network that is only going to basically include the ACT. The minister has made it clear that this is something that she would, I think, look to expanding to incorporate hospitals or other health structures, if it is going to include things like QEII and Clare Holland House, from New South Wales. I think that is certainly something worth looking at. I would support the minister in doing that if she were to continue that conversation.

We will be supporting this bill and we will be supporting the government’s amendments. But let me be very clear on this. Where it might be a relevant structure in other jurisdictions that you might have a headquarters essentially in Sydney but you are dealing with a region out at Dubbo and it is relevant then to have a local hospital network, it does not make much sense to have a local hospital network in a jurisdiction like the ACT.

I think it is quite clear—in fact, ACT Health executives made it clear to me—that the only reason we are actually establishing this structure is to unlock the funding. There is no question that that is why we are doing that. Essentially, the ACT has got a gun to its head from the federal government. It is basically saying, “Do this or you do not get the money.” We will not be standing in the way of unlocking the money; so I do note my concerns with this extra layer of bureaucracy that is being established.

I note my concerns with the entire so-called reform process and the way it has rolled out. But certainly my colleagues and I will not be blocking the funding coming to the ACT by stopping essentially what is a toothless tiger from being established. But we will be making sure that this structure, as it is implemented, does not actually add, as I fear—I will just continue to advance questions in estimates and other processes—another layer of bureaucracy without the minister looking at how she can create efficiencies elsewhere in the system.

MS BRESNAN (Brindabella) (4.36): The Greens will be supporting the Health Amendment Bill and the establishment of a local hospital network council. The move

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