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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1996 Week 10 Hansard (3 September) . . Page.. 2970..


MR HUMPHRIES (continuing):

Then he went to opposition. Then, when the waiting lists started to increase, he started talking about waiting lists. Waiting lists, or the growth in the waiting lists, was the fundamental indicator of a hospital system in trouble. So, when the waiting list rose from about 1,000 to about 1,700 while I was Minister for Health, every day in this chamber it was, "Waiting list, waiting list, waiting list".

When Mr Berry went back in as Minister for Health, the story started to change, because the waiting list started rising - from 1,700 in 1989, to 2,000, to 2,500, to 3,000, to 3,500, to 4,000, to 4,569. There was a 155 per cent increase during the time he was Minister. Not surprisingly, he stopped talking about waiting lists as an indicator of the success of the hospital system. Then he started talking about throughput. Throughput was the big indicator. It does not matter how many people are on the waiting list any more; it does not matter how many times your budget blows out; the important issue is throughput. If you get the throughput right, you are fine. You are a great Health Minister. You deserve stars and spangles and all sorts of other accolades.

Mr Speaker, on his return to the opposition benches - his richly deserved return, I might say - and when we started to improve the throughput levels in the public hospital system, Mr Berry started changing tack again. There was another swing over to the left - heave-ho. Then he was talking about waiting lists for a short time. Whoops, the waiting lists started going down; whoops, another quick turnaround; whoosh, around he went. Now, Mr Speaker, the latest measure is coming out. Here is the latest one: The latest indicator is waiting times. Now we have it.

Mr De Domenico: He is ignoring you now. He is trying another tack.

MR HUMPHRIES: He is ignoring me. He is trying to have another go, changing the subject. Mr Speaker, the new indicator is waiting times; the Carnell Government has waiting times that are too long. All right, Mr Speaker; let us take waiting times as our new indicator of the success or failure of our hospital system. Is that the test? Give us a measure, Mr Berry. Is that the test?

Mr Berry: You have to do it comprehensively - - -

MR HUMPHRIES: Mr Speaker, this man could not lie straight in bed at night. If he is fair dinkum, if he really cares about the people of this city, if he really thinks that people - - -

Mr Berry: Mr Speaker, I think that might be an imputation.

MR SPEAKER: Do you want that withdrawn?

Mr Berry: Yes, I think so. It is an imputation that somebody has told a porky. I think he ought to withdraw that.


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