News Parliament

90 SECOND STATEMENT - RURAL AND REGIONAL HEALTH SERVICES

There is a chronic shortage of doctors in the bush, and people of country Australia are tired of it. They're tired of having to wait weeks or months just to see a GP. They're tired of not being able to replace doctors when they leave town or retire. They question why it is we're so reliant on foreign doctors and why we can't be training more of our own to work in the bush. They're tired of the patronising city lobbyists who keep telling them that it will be okay if they just wait a little longer as each new strategy is rolled out. Country people are tired of waiting. It's been decades of waiting and a king's ransom in taxpayer funding. The problem is still there, and country people know it.

Only about eight per cent of medical students trained by the big city universities go on to practice medicine in the country. Charles Sturt University has a plan to do something about this by starting a country medical school that will train doctors in the bush for practice in the bush. Eighty per cent of its places will be quarantined for country students. Charles Sturt University knows how to train a country workforce. It has repeatedly shown that students who train in the country are far more likely to live and work in the bush after they graduate. For example, 70 per cent of inland accountants in New South Wales are Charles Sturt University graduates. Country people are tired of the inequality between the city and the bush. It's time for action. The time for the Murray-Darling Medical School has come.