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Tuesday, 19 June 2012
Page: 7118


Ms PLIBERSEK (SydneyMinister for Health) (17:35): I want to make a few general comments about the GP superclinics to begin with. I think it is important to say that 38 out of the over 60 GP superclinics are either open and delivering early services or under construction at the moment, and 1¾ million services have been provided through GP superclinics that are in their early stages. I will turn in a moment to the specific questions that the shadow parliamentary secretary has asked. And I do commend him for coming and using this opportunity to question. I know he has a very genuine commitment to health service delivery, and it is wonderful to see him here. I also want to let the shadow parliamentary secretary know that, if he has questions on Indigenous health, we will be losing the more appropriate responder to those questions at a quarter past six, so he might want to re-order any questions to ask them before then.

In relation to GP superclinics, the $44 million saving from the GP Super Clinics Program was from uncommitted funds that were intended for a range of development and reporting activities and will not affect the operation of any of the GP superclinics that are already operating or have been committed to in the future. He has asked about Wallan and Ballan. Some of the funding that I think you are indicating actually came from the Health and Hospitals Fund.

The Ballan GP superclinic, which I went to with the shadow parliamentary secretary, who is here at the moment, is an absolutely magnificent facility in a beautiful old home that used to belong to the hospital administrator in the town of Ballan. They have managed, through the Health and Hospitals Fund, to get funding for a second stage of the development of that excellent facility, which will include things like a hydrotherapy pool as well as the GP services and allied health services that are already being provided there. Not only is the GP superclinic a fantastic addition to the health services of that town and that region, but it has also boosted the whole economic activity in that town as well, as people no longer bypass it to travel to Ballarat or into Melbourne to get their health services.

The shadow parliamentary secretary asked about Sorell. The good news is that Sorell still will receive a new GP clinic. Brighton and Bridgewater will also receive upgraded facilities. The reason three sites will receive new or upgraded facilities instead of one location in Sorell is that the project proposed for Sorell was not one that stacked up at the end. I was disappointed to see the newspaper reports that the shadow parliamentary secretary was referring to, and I assured myself that it was not the case that that potential operator in Sorell was unable to repay any money that was unexpended. That report was not correct; it confused two items of funding.

Further on the GP superclinics, I think it is very important to note that the GP superclinics have been terrifically popular with members on both sides of the parliament. Obviously my Labor colleagues have been very grateful for the investments in their electorates, but I noticed also that the member for Parkes—

Dr Southcott: I make a brief intervention. Does the minister believe that the waste of $500,000, which is sunk in the Sorell GP superclinic, is good value for taxpayers' money?

The DEPUTY SPEAKER ( Ms Grierson ): I think the minister was completing her answer, and I think she should be allowed to do that, unless the minister wants to take an intervention. Are you wishing to take an intervention?

Ms PLIBERSEK: No, I will just keep answering the question. Thanks very much. The member for Parkes said of the GP superclinic in Gunnedah, which used to be in his electorate: 'It was a long-held dream. It is an exciting model. It is co-located near the hospital. It will make doctors much more efficient. They will be able to walk in from the hospital back into the medical centre. It will be great for students and it will also help attract more medical professionals. It will be great for the people of Gunnedah—

Dr Southcott interjecting

The DEPUTY SPEAKER: It is not the usual procedure in consideration in detail for the interventions to apply. You have an opportunity to ask the questions and the minister has an opportunity to reply to those questions. It is not usual practice that interventions are used to keep interrupting the minister. I ask you to resume your seat. Has the minister concluded? The time answering the questions has expired.