Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2001 Week 5 Hansard (2 May) . . Page.. 1350..
MR HUMPHRIES (continuing):
savings that can be translated to vote-buying. They show some welcome long-term thinking which has been quite rare on the Australian political landscape recently.
I note in respect of that that Mr Quinlan, when asked yesterday by the ABC's Keri Phillips whether he would have done much differently in the budget in terms of the initiatives themselves, responded, "Not much." I think that this budget does address the underlying issues of social capital-if you like, social justice-in a more than adequate way. I take it that our friends opposite will tell the Assembly and the community what difference they would have taken to this budget had they had their druthers, that they will tell us on Thursday, tomorrow, what different things they would have done in this budget. They had the opportunity in the draft budget process, but did not take it up. Tomorrow is their chance to put all the cards on the table.
We heard from Mr Quinlan yesterday that the Labor Party, if it had had its way with the budget, would not have invested money in reducing motor vehicle registration fees; it would have taken the money off household rates. That is a perfectly reasonable suggestion to make. We considered it. I do not much quibble with Mr Quinlan's choice; it is his choice and I respect the option that he chose there. But I will just note that Mr Quinlan was the chairman of the Assembly committee which was charged with the task of considering that draft budget suggestion. If he thought it was a good idea to put the money into rates, he should have said so in his report.
MR WOOD: My question is to the minister for health, Mr Moore. I am sure that the minister has seen in the last week two letters in the Canberra Times about the radiation oncology section of the Canberra Hospital.
Mr Moore: No.
MR WOOD: In that case, Mr Moore, I will give you the subeditor's headings on those two letters. One said, "Government uncaring about cancer." The other said, "The sorry state of radiation therapy." One letter claimed that the waiting time for cancer patients of that section is two months. Two months would be a lifetime for cancer patients. Whatever the current year's funding has been, clearly it has not addressed the need, so I have two questions for Mr Moore. Is that claim of two months correct? Secondly, what specifically is there in the budget announced yesterday to improve the service in this most important area?
MR MOORE: I will start with the last part of Mr Wood's question, about what was in the budget yesterday. If he looked, Mr Wood would see that we are putting in $100,000 this year, going to an expenditure of $730,000 to provide for enhanced cancer services through the provision of integrated ACT-wide public oncology services and a lymphodema clinic for patients.
The government is particularly concerned about the issue Mr Wood raises, but it is an issue that is not only a problem here in the ACT and in Australia but a problem internationally with radiation oncology. There is a significant shortage in this area worldwide. We have been losing radiation oncologists from Australia, particularly to Canada and the United Kingdom, which are offering very large sums of money for