Developments in ACT Health 2011

It was my great pleasure to be at the Calwell shopping centre last Saturday to see the opening of a new medical practice and meet with the community at my mobile office. The opening of the Calwell Medical Centre is thanks to the terrific and tenacious work of the local community, in particular, Con and Nick Tsoulias and the Doctors4Tuggeranong group. Doctors4Tuggeranong has been working with both the federal and ACT governments and doctors in the local community for more than three years to enhance the medical services available for people living in south Tuggeranong.

It may come as a surprise to some in this chamber that Canberra has some of the lowest rates of bulk-billing in the country, and access to GP and medical services remains a challenge. This shortage has come about because of more than a decade of neglect from the previous government, which actually cut the number of GP training places, to the great detriment of my electorate. That is why I have been so pleased to see the commitment of both the Gillard and ACT Labor governments to reforming and investing in health care for my constituents. Just last week, I joined the Minister for Health and Ageing, Nicola Roxon, and the ACT Chief Minister, Katy Gallagher, in touring a new operating theatre and beds at the Canberra Hospital. These new facilities have been made possible by a contribution from the Commonwealth of over $14 million in funding as part of the Gillard government's national health reforms.

Last week's announcement forms part of an investment in ACT health of over half a billion dollars. The ACT has also seen investments of $6.8 million to boost elective surgery at the Canberra Hospital, $8.3 million to expand the capacity of the ACT's emergency departments and over $10 million to support GP and allied training in the ACT. We are also well into consultations on a GP superclinic for Canberra. This complements the efforts of the ACT government, whose initiatives, such as the $4 million GP Development Fund, continue to expand the health services available to Canberrans.

Providing all Australians with access to quality health care, no matter what their background, is a core Labor value. I am proud to be part of a government and a party that is committed to delivering reform to health care at the Commonwealth and state level and that is particularly committed to investing in Canberra and investing in improving health care. At the GP level, at the primary health level and right up to the acute health level, it has been a substantial, across-the-board investment, and I am very proud of what Labor has done in terms of investing in health in the ACT.

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