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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2006 Week 6 Hansard (8 June) . . Page.. 1932..


MR STANHOPE (continuing):

There should have been a process in place from 1989 to deal with our dispersed education infrastructure in schools and policies applying to schooling in the territory. It should have been dealt with perhaps annually, as it will be in the future. We would not have come to this dreadful crunch. We would not have run into this roadblock. I am prepared to stand here and say that minority government has a lot to answer for in relation to that. Oppositions of whatever persuasion, when we are in government or when you were in government, have approached their tasks in the same way, with a self-serving crossbench, and decisions that should have been made were not made. The roadblock we have now hit is very much part and parcel of that history. I am prepared to acknowledge our role in that, but you need to do the same.

Health-cancer treatment

MR GENTLEMAN: My question is to the Minister for Health. Could the minister update the Assembly on measures the government is taking to prevent and treat cancer in the territory?

MS GALLAGHER: I thank Mr Gentleman for the question. I am pleased to announce that this morning a new linear accelerator was commissioned at the Canberra Hospital. This new machine has been commissioned to replace the former machine that broke down in March. This commissioning allows radiation oncology services to return to normal for ACT cancer patients. A process that would normally have taken many months took just a few weeks, and I would like to thank all those involved for their efforts. This fast turnaround is thanks to the hard work of staff at the Canberra Hospital and the supplying vendor.

Linear accelerators are vital pieces of machinery for the treatment of cancer. Linear accelerators are used to deliver radiotherapy to cancer sufferers. High-energy X-ray beams are used to kill cancerous cells. The majority of services provided by the radiation oncology department are delivered by linear accelerators, and that is why getting this machine online was so vital. I understand that full services were restored on Tuesday.

To continue this improvement, the government is committed to funding as many different cancer treatments as possible. That is why the budget handed down by the Chief Minister on Tuesday has allocated $780,000 over four years towards the introduction of the national bowel cancer screening program in the ACT. Bowel cancer is the most common form of internal cancer in Australians, with one in 24 people expected to develop bowel cancer in their lifetime. Trials have demonstrated that regular screening can reduce mortality from bowel cancer by 15 to 30 per cent.

Through this program it is expected that between five and eight additional bowel cancers and 30 advanced precancerous polyps will be detected each year. Detecting and treating bowel cancer at an early stage and removing polyps before they develop into bowel cancers is expected to decrease the number of advanced bowel cancers detected in the future, and therefore save lives.

The ACT will develop a strategy for the efficient and effective follow-up of patients with positive blood tests and equitable and timely access to colonoscopy services. This will be


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