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Wednesday, 7 February 2001
Page: 24152

Mr LAWLER (9:43 AM) —If I may, I will take a brief moment to speak a few words about a friend of mine who recently passed away. Eric Gardoll passed away in the early hours of Monday morning. He was husband to Iris; father and father-in-law to Chris and Julia, Ryan and Dianne, Ron and Margaret; and grandfather to Andrew and Claire, Tiffany and Stewart, Alice and Lucy.

He was a World War II veteran, a long serving member of the RSL club and a proud Anzac. He was a gentleman we would probably consider to be an ordinary, average Australia, but he was no such thing. His family and their achievements bear testimony to the fact that they are no ordinary Australians and that neither was he or his wife. I pass my thoughts on to the family on this day.

On a more cheery note, I would like to express a great deal of gratitude to the Minister for Health and Aged Care, Minister Wooldridge, for his announcement yesterday that included the establishment of a clinical school in Dubbo to work in with the Department of Rural Health, which has been established in Broken Hill for some time. This government, especially since the last budget, has put an enormous amount of thought and dollars into delivering long-term solutions to medical crises faced in rural New South Wales—indeed, in rural Australia. In particular, the Dubbo example of the clinical school has reason to be mentioned.

Last year we announced funding for four years to establish a Royal Flying Doctor base in Dubbo. It is no coincidence that the clinical school has been greatly supported by the Flying Doctor base. The beauty of having a clinical school in Dubbo is that so many more medical students will spend part of their training in a rural centre, and they will receive outstanding experience in and exposure to a rural health practice by working in Dubbo, working with Macquarie Area Health, and also by being part of the outreach services provided by the Royal Flying Doctor Service.

The other point to be made is that it breaks down the misconception by a lot of city based people that working in a rural area is akin to working in Siberia. The presence of academic staff, PhD students and medical students and the ability of specialists and GPs to work with the university by undertaking the role of tutors and lecturers will in itself create a centre of medical excellence in Dubbo. This will radiate to the surrounding towns, which will benefit by becoming more attractive in their attempts to get general practitioners to work in their areas because of the links that they will have with Dubbo. This initiative is benefiting not only Dubbo, Narromine, Gilgandra and Wellington but also Bourke, Brewarrina, Cobar and right out to Broken Hill. I commend the minister and thank him for his efforts in this regard.