Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2004 Week 4 Hansard (31 March) . . Page.. 1415..
MR STANHOPE: Mr Speaker, the minister for education is unable to be present for question time today due to family commitments. Any questions members may have for Ms Gallagher should be directed to me and I will do my best to respond.
Questions without notice
MR SMYTH: My question without notice is to the Minister for Health. Minister, over the past two months you have repeatedly claimed that the government has-and I quote-"almost doubled"spending per capita on mental health since coming to office. You claimed in this Assembly as late as yesterday that spending on mental health in the ACT was $67 per head when you came to government and is now estimated to be $117 per head in the 2003-04 budget.
Minister, is it not the case that, because of the creation in January 2003 of the stand alone agency Mental Health ACT, the budget for the 2003-04 year presents mental health funding in quite a different manner from the way spending was reported four years ago? Is it not the case that for the first time the new administrative arrangements include as mental health spending the expenses for provisions and expenses for administrative overheads that were previously allocated against the Canberra Hospital, as well as a share of the cost of planning and policy work previously allocated to the Department of Health?
Minister, one of your own press releases claims that real funding has increased by $3.4 million over the last two years. This could amount to an increase of around only $11 per capita. Has your government really increased mental health funding from $67 per capita to $117, or have your previous statements to the public and in this Assembly been incorrect?
MR CORBELL: My comments are correct. The answer to Mr Smyth's question is yes, we have increased funding.
MR SMYTH: I have a supplementary question. Minister, given that the budget released in May 2001 showed a spending estimate that had already reached $82 per capita for the 2001-02 year, will you not concede that your claim that spending was only $67 per head when you came to office and has increased by $50 per head since then is simply not correct?
MR CORBELL: If Mr Smyth wants to challenge the data from the latest national mental health report, which recorded the ACT's per capita expenditure as $67 per head, he can do that. That is not the ACT government's figure; that is the figure of the national mental health report, which shows that under the Liberal Party expenditure was at its lowest for a considerable period and that $67 per capita was the level of expenditure that the Liberals were delivering-a measly amount. The ACT government, under this government, has had to address this and make a significant investment.