MICHAEL BRISSENDEN: Medical students' associations are bewildered by the Federal Government's decision to fund a new medical school in Perth.
Graduates say there's a glut of medical students who can't get an internship after university because of a shortage of places but the Government says the school will service a doctor shortage in Western Australia.
Bridget Brennan reports.
BRIDGET BRENNAN: You would expect medical students to welcome millions of dollars for a new undergraduate doctor school but the Medical Students' Association of Australia thinks it's a terrible idea.
President James Lawler:
JAMES LAWLER: Medical students are bewildered by that news. There's been well documented shortages in internship positions, in specialist training positions for graduating medical students and junior doctors for a number of years. Another medical school will add more medical student numbers to Australia's health workforce but won't necessarily create more doctors.
BRIDGET BRENNAN: The Prime Minister was in Perth yesterday to commit $20 million for a third medical school in Perth, at Curtin University.
The Medical Students' Association wants that money to be spent on extra training places instead.
JAMES LAWLER: Twenty million dollars would go a long way in terms of providing either more internships for graduating medical students or more specialist training positions for junior doctors.
BRIDGET BRENNAN: The New South Wales Medical Students' Council is worried that the extra graduates from Western Australia will seek training places interstate.
The council's chairman is Neel Gobin.
NEEL GOBIN: These students who will be graduating in a few years time from the proposed Curtin Medical School will no doubt end up coming to New South Wales or even to other states for jobs. So what it means for graduates in New South Wales is that many, many more medical students than currently will end up missing out on jobs.
BRIDGET BRENNAN: Neel Gobin says Australia is reliant on skilled doctors from overseas because although there are hundreds of graduates in Australia they haven't had on-the-job training.
NEEL GOBIN: Well, at this stage, Australia is still importing doctors from overseas and while it may seem that we need more doctors at this stage, creating more medical students would not give us more doctors straight away. It will give us more doctors in five or six years' time. But by then, you would have less and less graduates being able to find jobs.
BRIDGET BRENNAN: The Australian Medical Association (AMA) has been fiercely critical of the Government's support for the new school.
AMA president Brian Owler:
BRIAN OWLER: This proposal just does not make any sense. It goes against the advice of the AMA, the Australian Medical Students' Association. So while the language might be colourful, it is appropriate to describe this as a bad captain's call.
BRIDGET BRENNAN: Speaking on Insiders, the Treasurer Joe Hockey rejected the criticism.
JOE HOCKEY: The medical school is focused on training doctors particularly for those areas where there is no medical representation. And I think Brian Owler's language was extreme and certainly not fitting for someone representing a great profession. And quite frankly, I think his comments were out of order.
BRIDGET BRENNAN: The new school will offer 60 places in the next two years.
MICHAEL BRISSENDEN: Bridget Brennan reporting.