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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2006 Week 2 Hansard (7 March) . . Page.. 370..


MR SPEAKER: Cease your interjections, Mr Mulcahy. I think Mr Corbell has more to say.

MR CORBELL: Mr Mulcahy and those opposite need to accept a very basic fact. That fact is that access block at the Canberra Hospital is down. Maybe they should have thought about that before they decided to resort to their usual claim of crisis and disaster. Maybe they should have thought about that when they were writing their questions for question time today. Access block in the emergency department of the Canberra Hospital is down, and it is down significantly from 45 per cent to 27 per cent in the last 12 months.

That means, Mr Mulcahy, fewer people waiting, fewer people waiting long, uncomfortable hours to get into the wards and more people able to be seen. On top of that, this government has increased the capacity of our public health system to address these issues. We have increased it with new subacute beds, new medical beds, new intensive care beds, more in-home care, GP after hours clinics, better discharge lounge arrangements and our access improvement program.

The challenge for the opposition and the challenge for the Liberal Party in this place is to go beyond the simplistic assertion that providing more beds fixes every single problem in the public health system. The Canberra community deserve better than a Liberal party that has a parrot as the Leader of the Opposition who repeats the mantra day in and day out without any attempt to analyse and understand the complexities of managing a public health system. Until they have that and until our community has that, we are not being served well by this poor and pathetic opposition.

MR SPEAKER: Mr Corbell, withdraw your reference to a member as some sort of bird. I am not going to put up with that sort of thing.

Mr Smyth: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I did actually refer to Mr Gentleman as a parrot and we had quite a nice interchange about different sorts of parrots.

MR SPEAKER: You might think that is tolerable in this place, Mr Smyth. I do not.

Public housing-war widows

MRS BURKE: My question is directed to the Minister for Disability, Housing and Community Services. I understand that changes have been made to regulations that do not allow for the exemption of all forms of veterans' entitlements when assessing income to calculate rent for public housing. Under the changes, the exemption for the purposes of calculating rent is made only to take account of disability allowances, disability payments and disability pensions.

How many war widows, for example, who are public housing tenants are now facing having to pay higher rent because you are clearly including all the forms of veterans' entitlements, other than disability payments, when determining rents?

MR HARGREAVES: I thank Mrs Burke for the trick question. It is either a trick question or an extreme example of lack of research. I will give a little bit of history with


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