Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 1 Hansard (11 December) . . Page.. 61..
MR QUINLAN (continuing):
I think the point that really should be made-and I will close on this-is that the article does not appear to identify anything that the previous government did to bring about that result. I am prepared to lend the magazine to anybody who wants to comb through it.
MR SMYTH: My question is to the Chief Minister. Chief Minister, in the lead-up to the election you claimed that an ACT Labor government would commit an immediate $6 million to the Canberra Hospital budget to "ensure its survival and viability". You then proceeded to promise the citizens of Canberra that Labor would provide an additional $6 million for nurses, admit more in-patients and treat more people in Emergency. Can you confirm that the $6 million needed to ensure the hospital's survival and viability is indeed the same $6 million that Labor has promised for more nurses, to admit more in-patients and to treat more people in Emergency? How many times can you spend the same $6 million? Chief Minister, have you not hoodwinked the public, and are you not double dipping?
MR STANHOPE: I thank the member for the question. I think if there is one area of the previous government's management of the ACT over the last six years which has horrified the ACT community as much as anything else, perhaps as much as the run-down in education, it is the way in which the previous government handled the delivery of health services.
Twelve months ago it sought to engage in discussions with the nursing work force in relation to a new enterprise bargaining agreement. I think we are now up to the 13th month of protracted negotiations that have effectively highlighted the Liberal Party's incapacity to provide for health services for the people of the ACT or for stability within the delivery of health services, particularly public health services, for the people of the ACT. They created in the workplace an environment that was so debilitating, particularly for the nurses in the work force. The nursing work force are of course 70 per cent of the work force in the ACT.
The previous government's inability to deal with issues affecting the Canberra Hospital was quite shameful. Its inability and its incapacity to be honest about the level of funding it was providing to the Canberra Hospital for the delivery of health services highlight the level of despair, the complete lack of morale and the air of crisis that pervaded the delivery of health services in the ACT and that were a feature of the Liberal Party and the previous government. It was an appalling performance by each of you.
We were faced at the time of the election with an interesting debate around health care and the real state of the finances of the Canberra Hospital. I come to the nub of the question. The insistence by the previous government that it had increased the funding of the Canberra Hospital by 10.7 per cent over the course of a year was a complete furphy. In fact, the end-of-year-to-the-new-budget increase in real terms was 1.3 per cent. You created a circumstance at the Canberra Hospital where you knew-
Mr Smyth: Not true.