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Monday, 17 August 2009
Page: 7986

Ms SAFFIN (3:45 PM) —My question is to the Minister for Health and Ageing. Will the minister please update the House on implementation of the government’s GP superclinics program?

Ms ROXON (Minister for Health and Ageing) —Mr Speaker, I know that you will have a particular interest in the answer to this question, the government having announced an extra three superclinics to be added to the program—one in your electorate and one in the member for Wannon’s electorate. I did think for a moment that, when the member for Indi was coming to the dispatch box to ask her question, it was perhaps about the superclinic that is to be in her electorate, announced by the Prime Minister and I on Friday, but unfortunately not. It falls to the member for Page, who I know has been taking a close interest in the rollout of her superclinic in Grafton. It was a very heavily attended consultation process. Last month the government announced that a successful bid had been selected and a contract signed. An integrated multidisciplinary model of care will be delivered, tailored to the needs of the local community.

We are very proud that, of the 31 superclinics announced at the election, 24 contracts have been signed, construction at eight sites is underway and nearly 7,000 in the member for Solomon’s seat have used services since December last year when the after hours interim services were started. I know the member for Ballarat is pleased that the superclinic at Ballan is due to be opened this month and the first patients will be able to use the facility in September. Interim services have also commenced in the Blue Mountains where, I know the member for Macquarie will be pleased to hear, an additional GP has been employed. In Devonport, the member for Braddon will be pleased to hear that there has been a commencement of asthma and diabetes clinics to be linked to the services. I understand as well that in southern Lake Macquarie the physiotherapy and rehabilitation centre, including a hydrotherapy pool, has already commenced services and is due to be officially opened shortly.

Of course, the  report of the National Health and Hospitals Reform Commission made it very clear that this strategy is taking the right direction for reform. In fact, the commission takes this even further and suggests that we should invest more in primary healthcare centres across the country, making use of multidisciplinary care—the sort of arrangement that the government flagged at the election and is now delivering. The commission identified that a strong primary healthcare sector is an important way of keeping people in the community healthy and out of hospital. In the Prime Minister’s and my travels, talking at hospitals around the country, consulting on the report of the Health and Hospitals Reform Commission, we were recently in Adelaide. On the same visit we signed three funding agreements for three GP superclinics in Adelaide: one at Noarlunga in Kingston, one at Modbury in Makin and one at Playford North in Wakefield. This means that South Australia will have an investment of $57.5 million in primary health care, delivering better services to South Australians. Interestingly, a fact that I think captured the imagination of all of those who were at this announcement was a report from the South Australian Minister for Health, Mr John Hill, who indicated that when a similar service had opened in Aldinga, in the seat of the member for Kingston, presentations at the Noarlunga Hospital emergency department were reduced from those surrounding suburbs by around 16 per cent.

So those opposite can continue to be dismissive of these investments, but in fact these investments are aimed at delivering better services to the community and at the same time diverting unnecessary presentations from our emergency departments. The MP in this House who has taken the least interest in a superclinic being built in his electorate is the member for Dickson, who did not turn up to the start of construction of the Strathpine superclinic last month, and I am sorry to say that this has been pretty typical of his performance to date. It may be that he already knew that he was going to cut and run from his seat at that time and did not think he would bother to stand up for delivering health services to his electorate. Not only does he not seem to want the $2.5 million investment in his electorate but there are 90 construction jobs in Dickson that do not seem to rate as important to the member for Dickson.

So I would urge others in this House to take the approach of others opposite, perhaps the member for Cowan, who like the Liberal Minister for Health in Western Australia has welcomed this investment, or perhaps the approach of the member for Wannon, who lobbied for the investment that is now being made in his electorate, or perhaps even the member for Parkes, who is still pushing for his. We know that that request is there. These members understand that these investments provide not only jobs today but long-term health services for the future that take pressure off our hospitals. And the member for Dickson should get on board.

Mr Rudd —Mr Speaker, I ask that further questions be placed on the Notice Paper.