General Practice
Database House Hansard
Date 22-02-2011
Source House of Reps
Parl No. 43
Electorate Solomon
Interjector SPEAKER, The
Dutton, Peter, MP
Emerson, Craig, MP
Griggs, Natasha, MP
Southcott, Dr Andrew, MP
Pyne, Chris, MP
Adams, Dick, MP
McCormack, Michael, MP
Abbott, Tony, MP
Hockey, Joe, MP
Page 911
Party CLP
Status Final
Questioner Griggs, Natasha, MP
Responder Roxon, Nicola, MP
Stage General Practice
Context Questions Without Notice
System Id chamber/hansardr/2011-02-22/0037


Mrs GRIGGS (3:04 PM) —My question is to the Minister for Health and Ageing. Almost 3½ years ago, the minister promised a 24-hour-a-day GP service at the Palmerston GP Super Clinic. Is the minister aware that the clinic closes at 6 pm every Monday to Friday and is closed on weekends, with patients given the option of ringing the national call centre? What will the minister do to address this government’s chronic incompetence and failure to deliver even the most basic service?

Ms ROXON (Minister for Health and Ageing) —I have to say I have heard everything now. The member for Solomon knows full well that the GP superclinic, which I visited on Friday last week to officially open it, is not only operating with four GPs, with registrars and with nurses but is also co-located with the after-hours service which is funded by the Northern Territory government and, in fact, has been for more than two years; it is a 24-hour service. The Leader of the Opposition—

Honourable members interjecting—

The SPEAKER —Order! The minister has the call.

Ms ROXON —The Leader of the Opposition might care to listen to this answer, because it is very embarrassing for his own backbencher. When I was there on Friday, I took the opportunity to pursue the issue that the member has been raising. What I thought would be a really good thing to do was to see where I would arrive at the superclinic if it were at a point in time after the superclinic had closed its doors, what the referral system would be and what I could say—

Mr Dutton interjecting

The SPEAKER —Order, the member for Dickson! The minister has the call.

Ms ROXON —It is a very embarrassing question for the member, because—

Dr Emerson interjecting

Mr Dutton —So would you be. You’re not a rat; you’re a good free marketeer.

The SPEAKER —The member for Dickson and the Minister for Trade are warned.

Ms ROXON —The member for Solomon would know that there is a sign at the door which makes absolutely clear that the after-hours service is currently provided by the co-located community health service. I walked the distance that it takes—124 steps, and I am not a tall person—and it is not a very difficult way to get to that after-hours service.

Mrs Griggs —Mr Speaker, I rise on a point of order. The minister knows that she is misleading. The clinic is not open; it is not even in the same building. There are people that go and they cannot—

The SPEAKER —There is no point of order, and again I remind members that rising on a point of order is not an opportunity to enter into debate. There are many other avenues available for people to have debate: question time is not one of them.

Ms ROXON —The reason those opposite are so sensitive about this is because thousands of residents in Palmerston have for more than two years been provided with services that otherwise they would have to travel across all of Darwin to get to the Royal Darwin Hospital for. This is because no after-hours services were provided in Palmerston.

Those opposite might do a bit of homework and pull out the announcements which made clear that the Northern Territory government was funding the after-hours service, that the GP superclinic would be built and that ultimately they would be co-located. The negotiations are currently underway between the Northern Territory government and the provider of the superclinic.

Dr Southcott —Mr Speaker, I rise on a point of order.

The SPEAKER —No, the minister has the call.

Ms ROXON —If any other member in this House would like to take more time than the member for Solomon has taken—

Opposition members interjecting—

The SPEAKER —I can ignore when I want to ignore, and I am ignoring.

Ms ROXON —they would find out that this service has provided over 20,000 valuable services to residents of Palmerston, and was enthusiastically welcomed when it was officially opened on Friday.

Charles Darwin University and the Flinders Medical School are training health professionals of the future right where Palmerston residents are getting services throughout the day and after hours. The member for Solomon should be ashamed that as their representative she is not prepared to stand up and say that this is a service that is providing benefits to her residents in Darwin.

Dr Southcott —Mr Speaker—

Mr Pyne —Mr Speaker—

The SPEAKER —The minister will resume her seat. The member for Sturt will resume his seat and the member for Boothby will resume his seat.

Mr Adams —Sit down, you mongrel!

The SPEAKER —The member for Lyons is warned.

Mr Pyne —Mr Speaker, I rise on a point of order. If the reason you have ignored the member for Boothby is because you can only take one point of order on relevance during a question then that is fair enough—you can only take one point of order on relevance. But there are many different kinds of points of order that a member can make in this House; and under standing order 86, how will you know unless he says what the point of order is? Under standing order 86 (a), a member may raise a point of order with the Speaker at any time—

The SPEAKER —The Manager of Opposition Business will resume his seat.

Mr McCormack —All we want is a fair go like the country kids want a fair go! You didn’t give them a fair go yesterday.

The SPEAKER —Order! The member for Riverina is warned, and it is only on the basis of his continual interjections—I am unclear on what he said.

Both the member for Boothby and the member for Sturt might read Practice. This occupant of the chair would not be the first person who has not offered somebody the call on the basis that they are seeking a point of order. The member for Menzies has been at the end of that with the present Speaker, so it is not the first time that I have not done it. We understand these things; but I simply say that, in toto, the picking and choosing of standing orders that are important is miraculous. When people can ignore the fact that nobody except those who have the call are to make a statement or an interjection, I find it incredible that then they want to find my cooperation on all occasions.

Let us get the facts straight: the member for Solomon’s point of order was not a point of order.

Mr Abbott —And the answer was not an answer.

The SPEAKER —No—on that I am happy to have the debate. But can I simply say that I hope that people who have concerns about the conduct of question time would actually go to the Procedure Committee and put to them suggestions about the way that question time could be made better.

Ad nauseam, I have suggested that the same standing order should apply to answers as applies to the questions. It would have been a much better solution than ‘directly relevant’. It would have meant that question time is not about the debate; you can have the debate on other occasions.

I am happy to entertain discussions about that, but I am also of a mind that the amount of banter that goes on—I agree, from both sides of the chamber—could well be reduced, and question time could revert—if it has ever been—to an occasion when it has been about the discussion and debate on the matters of ideas rather than personalities. I would agree that the amount of debate that is in the answers is a big part of the problem that any occupant of the chair confronts. Something which I have been consistent on is that I cannot fathom why the House does not contemplate applying the same rules to the answers as it does to the questions.

Dr Southcott —Mr Speaker—

The SPEAKER —No, the member for Boothby: the dogs have barked, the caravan has moved on. If he wishes to discuss any matters with me he can come around, but—

Mr Pyne interjecting

The SPEAKER —All right, but with a warning. I am giving the member for Boothby the opportunity to raise a point of order. If what he is about to do is not a point of order I will deal with him. The member for Boothby.

Dr Southcott —Mr Speaker, I seek leave to table a document.

The SPEAKER —On what basis are you seeking leave to table a document?

Dr Southcott —The minister during her answer made an invitation to the opposition to substantiate their claims. The document is a media release which promises a 24-hour-a-day GP service at the Palmerston GP superclinic.

The SPEAKER —Order! The member for Boothby will leave the services of the chamber for one hour under standing order 94(a).

The member for Boothby then left the chamber.

Mr Pyne —Mr Speaker, with great respect to the chair, you asked the member for Boothby on what basis he was seeking leave to table a document. He is entitled to seek leave to table a document at the end of an answer—


Mr Pyne —and then you used the answer he gave you to ask him to withdraw from the chamber. I would ask you to reconsider your decision to ask him to withdraw from the chamber.

The SPEAKER —No, I will not reconsider. The member for Boothby was not the person that asked the question. He had no role in the proceedings before the chamber. If you remember rightly, he rose and I ignored him during the answer to the question. You suggested to me that he might be raising relevance or any other matter, but it was not a point of order. I invite you in your defence of the member for Boothby to actually put to me how the member for Boothby under standing orders had the opportunity to rise.

Mr Pyne —I am happy to do so. Two things I will say to you. Firstly, my understanding is that any member can seek leave to table a document at any time with permission from the chamber. Secondly, I have on many occasions seen a member ask a question and the Prime Minister or the Leader of the Opposition, at the end of that answer, seek leave to table a document. And on none of those occasions were they informed that they had no right to do so because they did not ask the question.

The SPEAKER —Read the standing orders about the way in which ministers and members of the executive are treated.

Mr Hockey —Kim Beazley did it on numerous occasions, and Simon Crean.

The SPEAKER —The point was that the member for Boothby has indicated now that the point of order that he was going to raise in the middle—I repeat, in the middle—of the discussion was the tabling of a document. The member for Melbourne Ports has the call.

Mr Pyne —Mr Speaker, I raise a point order.

The SPEAKER —The member for Melbourne Ports will resume his seat. The member for Sturt, as the Manager of Opposition Business, because he gets to defend.

Mr Pyne —Mr Speaker, I understand that and I appreciate your giving me the call. I would simply make the point to you that because of your admonition to the member for Boothby he did not proceed with his point of order during the answer of the minister, but at the end of the answer, when all those matters were concluded, he was entitled to seek leave to table a document.

The SPEAKER —Again, if you read precedent, of course leaders of parties are given added—added. The member for Melbourne Ports has the call.