Mr PASIN (Barker) Seeing a GP in a rural and regional community has never been simple. There has always been a distribution issue in this country, where GPs are plentiful in metropolitan areas and scarce in the regions.
While the pandemic migration pause has seen this issue become more widespread, there is no doubt the issue is still more acute in rural, regional and remote Australia and those opposite, in all their wisdom, have decided to take away incentives for GPs to work in regional areas.
The Distribution Priority Area classification identifies locations in Australia with shortages of medical practitioners and ensures overseas doctors are prioritised to work in those regions. Upon coming to government, the Labor Party wasted no time in changing this system.
To increase the supply of GPs in suburban areas, internationally trained GPs can now work almost anywhere they want. The evidence suggests they will more than likely choose to work in the suburbs, rather than the regions.
To spell it out for those opposite, I want to give an example of just how desperate we are in regional South Australia for a GP. Kimba, in the member for Grey’s electorate, is so desperate for a doctor that they’re offering a rent-free house and rent-free use of a brand new medical centre.
The local council there have commissioned a video, starring local residents and outlining the positives of living in Kimba, to try and attract a GP. In my own electorate of Barker, the Lameroo and Pinnaroo district is offering an annual salary package of—wait for it!—$750,000 for a GP who is willing to come and work in that area.
Communities are going to extraordinary lengths, I’d suggest to you, to get a practitioner to come and work there. And, while our regions are so desperate, the Labor Party are making policy that funnels potential GPs away from the regions and into the metropolitan centres that they represent.
Now, I’ve got an offer for the minister, a fellow South Australian. I invite him to come with me to the regions. Come to Keith. Come to Lameroo. Come to Pinnaroo. Come to Kimba. I’ll drive. But talk to the community—understand their issues and the impacts your policies are having on them.
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