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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2007 Week 8 Hansard (30 August) . . Page.. 2400..


Appropriation Bill 2007-2008

[Cognate paper:

Estimates 2007-2008-Select Committee report-government response]

Detail stage

Schedule 1-Appropriations.

Proposed expenditure-Part 1.10-ACT Health, $628,455,000 (net cost of outputs), $36,319,000 (capital injection) and $658,000 (payments on behalf of the territory), totalling $665,432,000.

Debate resumed from 29 August 2007.

MR SMYTH (Brindabella) (11.30): When we adjourned last evening, I was making the point that if members go to page 122 of budget paper 3 they will see that we have got money in this budget for the forward design of projects like the adult mental health acute inpatient unit and high security mental health inpatient unit. These units were announced some time ago by Mr Corbell when he was the health minister before that portfolio was taken from him. In his press release at the time, he also spoke of a number of beds. He spoke of the number of beds for young people—a youth unit—and he said that these beds would be operational in 2008. As a consequence of this budget, that promise is broken. There is only money for forward design. There is no money to build these units—unless the minister can point to where that money is, and I suspect that she cannot.

The problem with this is that this is a litany of capital works in the health department that the Stanhope Labor government failed to deliver on time or on budget. We can go straight back to the step-down facility announced by Michael Moore as health minister in March 2001, funded in the last Humphries budget in May 2001. It opened only in February this year; it was opened by the minister. It is an excellent unit, but the problem is that it took six years. What we see here, on form, is announcements that were made some years ago now. All we have in this year's budget is the money for the forward design.

I think we all agree that since self-government successive governments of both persuasions have attempted to make the psychiatric services unit at the hospital work properly. A lot of money has been spent, by both governments of both parties, on refurbishments that have achieved some of their aims but, because of the basic nature of that building, have not been able to meet the total aim of providing the best quality service we can for those with mental health difficulties.

We all looked forward to the new facility but, like so many capital works projects with this government, it is impossible to track the progress of these capital works projects. The government—the Stanhope "more honest, more open, more accountable"government—fails to table capital works progress reports regularly, as did the previous Liberal governments and, indeed, a minority of the Stanhope government. I have no faith that we will see this project delivered by 2008. It is now physically impossible to build it by and have it open in 2008.


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