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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 13 Hansard (20 November) . . Page.. 3813..


MR STANHOPE (continuing):

Of course, that itself reduced pressure on the Canberra Hospital. It is nothing we are proud of. I made that acknowledgment that the effect of the long waiting list was that people were leaving Canberra to seek treatment. I was simply being open. I was simply saying, "This is not just about workforce shortages; this is not just about the fact that we have provided an additional $3.75 million for oncology equipment. This is also a reflection of the fact that, because of the shortage, because of the waiting list, people, regretfully, left Canberra for treatment which, of itself, had an impact on the waiting list."

As Dr Tait has indicated in his comments on this issue, now that Canberrans and doctors know that there has been a significant effect on waiting lists, of course, the list will blow out again. It will. Canberra people and Canberra doctors who were referring patients out of town will now refer them to the Canberra Hospital, and it will once again become fully loaded.

I have no doubt that the waiting time for radiation therapy cannot be maintained at three weeks, and it won't be. But it is better that the doctors and the people of Canberra know that we have at least had this significant effect on waiting lists and that they respond, as they would, by referring again to Canberra Hospital.

But the problem is not over; the problem is not solved. We are 4.5 radiation therapists short. The positions are funded. We have advertised nationally and internationally; we have advertised in New Zealand, Canada and South Africa. We are trying as hard as we can to fill these positions, and we will continue to do that.

MR HUMPHRIES: I have a supplementary question. Given, Minister, that you acknowledge that the waiting times will blow out again when doctors begin to refer their patients back to the Canberra Hospital, what do you expect waiting times to reach? Do you expect them to once again reach the 10-week period that you regretted-

MR SPEAKER: That is a hypothetical, Mr Humphries.

Terrorism

MRS CROSS: My question is to Mr Quinlan in his capacity as Minister for Police, Emergency Services and Corrections. Minister, the federal government announced yesterday that Australia is now definitely on the hit list of al-Qaeda operatives or its affiliates.

While the federal government did not specify particular targets, one would have to assume that a government building housing hundreds of people would surely be high on that list. Minister, can you confirm whether the government has taken measures to increase security, and have such considerations included the Legislative Assembly precincts?

MR QUINLAN: Members will be aware that the federal government-

Mr Pratt: Just ask Mrs Cross to refer to Hansard.


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