The Australian Medical Students’ Association on 28 February reiterated its opposition to a new medical school in the Murray-Darling Basin region, after Minister for Rural Health, Senator Bridget McKenzie, confirmed to Senate Estimates that the proposal is progressing.

Senator McKenzie described the Murray-Darling Medical School (MDMS) as part of the Nationals’ “grassroots” policy, despite acknowledging that problems lie with training junior doctors after medical school.

La Trobe and Charles Sturt University have an expert lobby group that is pushing for the MDMS. In the run up to the Federal Budget in May and with Health Minister Greg Hunt announcing a focus on rural health, students are concerned that the lobby is gaining momentum.

“The Murray-Darling Medical School proposal has been gathering dust on ministers’ desks for more than five years because it lacks merit and won’t fix the workforce issues it claims to address,” AMSA president Mr Alex Farrell said.

“New medical schools are expensive, take years to produce doctors, and add to the numbers of medical school graduates when there are already more graduating medical students than available internships and vocational training positions.

“Announcing a new medical school is politically attractive, but it is a short-sighted waste of taxpayer money.”

The MDMS proposal includes a new school in Wagga Wagga, in the electorate of new National Party leader and Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack.