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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2007 Week 8 Hansard (29 August) . . Page.. 2310..


MR STEFANIAK (continuing):

their feet; so that some of the older nurses I know do not have to do double shifts when they are in their sixties because there is a lack of staff and they feel they really have to do that or they would be failing in their job because there are patients who have to be cared for. They are dedicated to their jobs.

Those are the issues that need addressing. You might be making a few moves in the right direction. If you are, well done. But you need to expedite it. You need to improve that further. But that is exactly what Mrs Burke is talking about here. It is what people are telling her. It is what the staff are telling her. It is what the ANF is telling her. They are the sorts of things you need to address as a government. You need to listen a lot more than you are doing.

There are some improvements. I am pleased that at least this minister does not purport to say that the system is 100 per cent. That is realistic. But she does need to listen more. She does need to listen to more people and she does need to speed up some of the essential improvements that are needed in this most critical area. Health and education are the big complaints you get all the time, and health always seems to top the list.

MRS BURKE (Molonglo) (11.32): If there are no other speakers, Mr Deputy Speaker, I will speak to close the debate. There was an interesting reaction, but one that was nevertheless predictable. It always is an issue for any opposition to come out against any health minister. As Mr Stefaniak said, it is a very touchy area. It is a very difficult area; it is a very complex area. It was interesting that Ms Gallagher said, I think, that I had taken an interest in health only since 1 August this year. Clearly that is a silly thing to say, and she knows that now, as she walks off laughing. For some years now, I have been on the standing committee for health in this place, so it flies in the face of that.

I am not about to play tit for tat with what the health minister did—just reading off and trying to deflect everything I have ever said since I assumed shadow portfolio responsibilities. I have made the issue public. I stand by everything that I have said and done and everything that I have put out there, using information from reports such as Australian Institute of Health and Welfare reports and the June 2007 report State of our public hospitals, and information from other commentators who have added to the debate, not least the federal government, which shares similar concerns.

I think it is true to say that public policy is now saying that any politician focusing simply on the hospital system is beating a dead horse. Yes, we have got problems. The minister has acknowledged that. That is a problem. But it should not stop us from having a debate to get these issues out into the open so that they can be fixed.

The minister asked for evidence; the Chief Minister has asked for evidence. Of course, they know that I am not going to table evidence that would reveal sources. They know that; they are just playing politics. However, with that little discretion there, I have raised the issues with the minister. I am pleased to see that in the amendment moved by the minister she is noting the things that I have asked for. She is talking about quarterly reports and so on.


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