Legislative Assembly for the ACT: Week 6 Hansard (23 June) . . Page.. 2477..
MR STEFANIAK (11.46): I really think that Mr Hargreaves should see what the Minister for Health said as just basically a petulant threat. All he needs to do is to hark back to previous Assembly meetings, the last one of which he attended. Members would, with some regularity during private members' business, move motions calling on the government to do things. The government might not have been terribly happy to do it because it wanted to do something else, but at the end of the day it had to acquiesce. Mr Corbell's petulant threat-
Mrs Dunne: It is called democracy.
MR STEFANIAK: Exactly, Mrs Dunne. It is called democracy. His petulant threat to close these 40 transitional care beds is just that-a threat. I think it is the height of cheek for the minister to make that petulant threat given his government's record and his track record both as Minister for Health and Minister for Planning in aged care. We are now towards the end of the life of this government and I still do not think we have seen any really new aged care beds. There is a crucial growing need for these beds. There are a number of sites around Canberra that could be developed. The government has the go-ahead on a number of sites but it does not do anything. So I find it ironic in the extreme for the minister to make this petulant threat.
As Mr Smyth has said, you cannot replicate a home in a hospital ward. The minister asked, "Are you saying that I can't manage a health system?"or something along those lines. Yes, we are. I think he himself says, "I can't manage a health system"-and maybe that is the crux of the matter.
I am going to read out what was said at the estimates committee. It is only one page. It is quite clear from what the minister has said today that he has implied that he certainly has made his mind up. I think he has implied that he has made his mind up for some time. That really corroborates the evidence we heard at the estimates committee where, despite his protestations that it has not really come to him yet and he has not made his mind up, most people in the health system regarded this as a done deal. I seem to recall that a certain email, dated 20 May, basically indicated that. The estimates committee report, on page 66, in discussing this very issue, states:
11.6 The Committee held lengthy discussions with the Minister on the future of the Rehabilitation and Independent Living Unit (RILU). It has been proposed that the existing RILU service be moved to ward 12B of the hospital, with enhanced support for people in their homes and the existing RILU facilities to be used to accommodate nursing-home type patients.
11.7 The Committee is concerned about this for several reasons, namely:
providing rehabilitation in the hospital setting may prolong or create a 'sickness syndrome';
moving individuals into the community too early may affect their long-term rehabilitation outcomes; and
rehabilitation may be compromised in the ward environment that does not mimic home-like conditions with steps, narrow corridors, kitchen and laundry facilities and gardens to assist people with re-learning the skills that they will ultimately need at home.