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Tuesday, 15 June 2010
Page: 5322

Mr SULLIVAN (3:35 PM) —My question is to the Minister for Health and Ageing. Will the minister update the House on the rollout of the government’s GP superclinics to improve primary care services? What risks are there to these initiatives, particularly for the communities in the north of Brisbane?

Ms ROXON (Minister for Health and Ageing) —I thank the member for Longman for his question. It is a very good question across the country, not just in the northern suburbs of Brisbane. But, of course, one of the biggest risks does currently live in the northern suburbs of Brisbane, although he is trying to get a seat somewhere else, and that is the member for Dickson. He, as the shadow health spokesperson, and the Leader of the Opposition of course do not support GP superclinics. He has not bothered to turn up and see that the improved share of services being provided to his community in Strathpine is actually something that has been welcomed with open arms. But let me go back a few steps, because there is some other good news about the superclinics program across the country which I think members would be interested in. I know the member for Gilmore, who does not appear to be in the House at the moment, would be interested to know that the new electorate of Gilmore but the current electorate of Throsby is soon to benefit from the Shell Cove superclinic. I was there today with the member for Throsby and the member for Cunningham to turn the first sod for this superclinic.

Before those opposite interject, I would like to ask whether anyone in this House, other than, of course, the two members who were with me, know how many doctors there currently are in Shell Cove, Shellharbour Village and Flinders. When this superclinic is open early next year, it will provide GP services, nursing services and allied health services, and currently in all of the three surrounding suburbs there is not a single doctor. This is the legacy that was left to us by the previous government. This has been turned around by our investments in superclinics, but unfortunately it is slated by the opposition to be closed. So future clinics that will be invested in, that were announced in the budget, have already been put on the Leader of the Opposition’s cutting list, which we know is something that the Leader of the Opposition has such a bad reputation for.

But it is not just the Shell Cove superclinic. The Parliamentary Secretary for Health and the member for Kingston last week inspected the start of work at the $25 million Noarlunga GP Plus Superclinic, which will be offering multidisciplinary care with extended operating hours. Last Wednesday I was pleased to inspect, with the member for Hasluck, the plans for the $10 million Midland GP superclinic. I inform those opposite that there was a very enthusiastic—

Opposition members interjecting—

The SPEAKER —Order! The member for Boothby was not asked the question; the minister was.

Mr Dutton interjecting

The SPEAKER —Order! The member for Dickson is warned!

Ms ROXON —The member for Dickson is not keen for me to finish this sentence because he is aware that the state Liberal MP for the area, Frank Alban, was there with the member for Hasluck and me to inspect the plans, because of course this is a joint project between the Western Australian Liberal government and our government. In fact, Mr Frank Alban, the local member, threatened—and I will quote his somewhat colourful language—quite serious bodily harm to any Liberal who dared to question the future of the clinic. This Midland superclinic is going to be in the old railway yards, and he said that any Liberal who wanted to oppose the clinic would be ‘hanging from the rafters of the railway yards’. I would not like to go that far, but I do think that he is clearly making a point that people who understand the services that are being provided in the community support them. Unfortunately, those opposite do not.

Now I want to talk little bit more about the Strathpine superclinic, which is of course part of the question asked of me by the member for Longman. Since January, when this clinic was opened, to 26 May—the latest data that we have—there have been more than 17,000 presentations at this clinic: 11,300 GP consultations, 1,800 pathology consultations and 3,900 allied and nursing consultations. You have to wonder, given these extraordinary numbers, how it is that the member for Dickson, on a margin of just 217 votes, does not think it a good idea to provide thousands of services to his constituents in Strathpine. There are not only six new GPs at the clinics; there is a new female GP—

Mr Dutton interjecting

The SPEAKER —Order! The member for Dickson will resume his seat. For somebody who has had something like seven or eight one-hour dismissals from the chamber, I cannot understand why the member for Dickson thinks that he is able to do what he just did. The minister has the call.

Ms ROXON —Yes, Mr Speaker, I think that is a question that is being asked in the electorate of Dickson.

The SPEAKER —Order! The minister will resume her seat. I am in danger of giving one of my lectures that people get upset about. I do not believe that this is a debating time, but I think that if people were to observe the amount of debate that I allow in questions from those on my left they would know that it is to balance the amount of debate that has always been contained in answers—always—and some of those with ministerial experience on the front bench on my left know that full well. The minister has the call and those members on my left know that the type of question contained by way of debate in an answer can in no way be responded to within the standing orders.

Ms ROXON —As I said, there is a reason that the opposition are so touchy about this: they have slated GP superclinics for their health cuts. The Leader of the Opposition has a record for pulling a billion dollars out of our hospitals. He already has on his list of the next cuts GP superclinics, investments in primary care infrastructure, e-health, and now also diabetes.

The member for Dickson has not had the decency to turn up at the superclinic in his electorate to see what services they are operating. The question that the member for Dickson and the Liberal Party have to confront next is: when we open applications for GP clinics across the country to be able to apply to expand their facilities—and in the seat of Dickson there are 145 doctors who will be able to apply for grants of up to half a million dollars—will the member for Dickson be writing to those GPs informing them of this great program available to assist in the expansion of their services that can support their constituents, or will he be writing perhaps more honestly to them and telling them—

The SPEAKER —Order! The minister will bring her answer to a conclusion.

Ms ROXON —that this support is not provided? It is important because I was asked about the support for primary care services in the northern suburbs of Brisbane. There are doctors in the northern suburbs of Brisbane who want to expand their practices, who want to be able to employ nurses and allied health professionals, and our government is making a program available where up to half a million dollars is available for those practices. The Liberal Party oppose it and the member for Dickson needs to spend a little bit more time concentrating on getting a fair share for his constituents rather than just worrying about his own shares—

The SPEAKER —Order! The minister will conclude her answer.

Ms ROXON —and that would be a better investment of his time here in this House.