When Focus asked Doctor David Gillespie, the first to declare he would contest the federal election later this year, to discuss his candidacy for the National Party, he and 15 other citizens had just completed a cold, noisy sleepover on Town Green to help raise funds to improve conditions for Port’s homeless youth.
I’m a gastroenterologist, interventional endoscopist and specialist physician. I studied at Sydney University and RPAH Medical School, did my postgraduate training at RPAH and Royal Alexandra Hospital for Children, Camperdown, then travelled, and studied in the UK for a Diploma of Child Health and Diploma of Anaesthetics. I was awarded the Peter Hickey Prize in my final year at St Vincent’s. I became a doctor after watching my father practise: as a youngster I did ward rounds with him and liked the role of caring, making a difference in people’s lives. I was born and raised in Queanbeyan where Dad was a GP for 48 years, third in a family of seven children, educated by Good Samaritan nuns and Marist Brothers, and Jesuits in high school. My brother’s an orthopaedic surgeon; my sister’s a nurse, and my mother and my aunt were too. My undergraduate training included terms in the PNG highlands and Canada. I worked for two years in the UK NHS before specialist training at RPAH, St George and St Vincent’s in Sydney. We moved to Port in ’93 because we wanted to live in the country; we looked from Queensland to Victoria: Port seemed a go-ahead town with a welcoming medical community. The natural beauty of the beaches and valley sold itself. My partner for life, Charlotte, and I celebrate 20 years together in September. We’ve three beautiful children, Isabelle, 17, Oliver, 15, and Alice, 13. Charlotte’s family are from Hay; mine are based in Canberra, with others living in Sydney and New York.
Why are you standing? While many things are said or claimed about various topics and funding bits and pieces we’re supposed to be getting, I’ve become very frustrated with the lack of effective representation and real, actual, outcomes. Health’s a classic example: if our hospital were getting all the funding and resources it needs, I’d be voting for the incumbent. But we’ve faced years of frustration watching public works like hospitals and roads never appear, or other public projects come in millions of dollars over budget when governments organise them. Public works budgets are like fattened cows that any number of departments take a piece of. [Private] project managers could deliver roads better and cheaper than government departments. Another reason for my standing is that people have to battle layers and layers of bureaucracy to get a business going. And seeing Australia go in to debt with ‘cash splashes’, ‘pink batts’ and dodgy ‘school hall’ rip-offs while the PM makes out he’s an economic guru – for putting us $120 billion in the red! Major parties form governments; they allocate funding and set the policy agenda. I’d aim to use my ‘real world’ experience in business and in health to deliver sensible, cost-effective, achievable outcomes that benefit small business and employment and deliver genuine reform in health delivery.
Main issues, excluding health? Cost of living; tax reform; the environment; infrastructure delivery cost-efficiency; small business and employment.
Main health issues in Port? They include inadequate hospital infrastructure to cope with the current load, and our growing elderly population. More GPs are needed: it’s too hard to get in to see them. The lack of a fourth pod, a hospital extension including dedicated coronary care, angiogram and endoscopy units and extra ward beds to cope with admissions via the emergency department. There’s an access-to-hospital block because there’s an exit block: inadequate aged care places create the exit block clogging up hospitals. Major parties form governments; they allocate funding and set the policy agenda.
What professional/personal qualities can you bring to being an MP? Hard work, experience in developing and running a business and being an employer at Hastings Day Surgery helps me see dimensions other than doctoring.
Will you continue practising if elected? My full-time commitment would be my MP’s duties.
I lecture at UNSW Rural Clinical School and enjoy cycling, movies, tennis, surfing, history and reading. I’ve coached junior cricket, rugby, and helped with soccer teams in the past. We regularly go camping with friends and love to travel. I’ve been involved in long-distance bike rides between Brisbane/Melbourne/Sydney to help benefit Aboriginal health and combat prostate cancer and diabetes.