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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2006 Week 8 Hansard (24 August) . . Page.. 2682..


DR FOSKEY (continuing):

This paper is designed to start a discussion which is fundamentally important to our community. Many of us will become mentally ill at some time in our lives. Some of us will suffer or be touched by the lives of friends, family or neighbours who develop a serious mental illness. I look forward to Labor and Liberals reading the discussion paper and engaging in a tripartisan discussion that leads to more effective ways of providing mental health services through future budgets.

MR SMYTH (Brindabella) (5.45): I am so pleased that the Minister for Health is with us to enjoy the debate. I would like to start by pointing out to the minister, in case she has not read it, paragraph 4.6 on page 41 of the committee's report. The paragraph reads:

The Committee found it of great concern the majority of Ministers were unable to tell the Committee how many staff would be lost in the process. The two exceptions, Ministers Gallagher and Corbell, are to be congratulated for outlining concisely where the job losses would occur in ACT Health and in ACT Planning and Land Authority respectively. If these two Ministers were able to accurately inform the Committee of staff changes, then all Ministers should also be able to do so.

So, Minister Gallagher, do not say that I have never praised you. I managed to get that in there. I wanted a recommendation, but the committee would not come at it. But it is important, where ministers do a job properly, that they do get praise. It is a shame other ministers cannot. I am sure that we will take that up later in the night.

That does go to show how we should look at the numbers in these estimates documents because, although the minister was able to give us an accurate breakdown, the actual number printed in the document itself is incorrect. It is only out by a small margin, but if everything were out by a small margin it could well be disaster for the ACT, particularly in health. One of the disasters for ACT Health has been the Chief Minister, who, in his tabling speech, said:

The budget provides significant additional funding for health—$41.7 million in 2006-07 ...

That is not true. The shame of it is that it is actually $61 million. If you have provided $61 million, you would think you would spruik it from the high heavens. The amount is $61,230,000. The problem is that you cannot trust anything the Chief Minister says in regard to these numbers because he is always wrong.

The minister has come up with an explanation and I am sure that she will enlighten the rest of the Assembly as to why $61 million can equal $41 million. My concern is that the Chief Minister says there is an additional $41 million in funding for health with a small "h"—so it is for applications, not for the department—but the additional funding is being soaked up by administration in the main. Most of it is not going to delivering extra health services. All it is doing is going to sustaining the current level of activity. For instance, the health insurance premiums went up by $5.8 million, the revised employer superannuation contribution rate went up by $16.2 million and the GPO went up by $2.6 million. Of greater concern is that the government has had to revise down by $10.8 million the revenue that it expected. About $33 million of the $41 million supposedly for additional health activity will not deliver a cent of additional health activity. It will not deliver an additional service of any kind. The problem is that this government is not making sure that the dollars go where they should.


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