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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2008 Week 9 Hansard (20 August) . . Page.. 3336..


MS GALLAGHER (continuing):

would not be a blanket authority. You would not just say, "I am a person that sees five health professionals and I am going to let all of those five health professionals view my records."If you only want one to do it, you have control of that.

It is not impractical. It works across the world now. You have to get a unique patient identifier. Then you have to get an electronic health record. From that, everything else flows. As I said, in our lifetime we will see a massive change in the delivery of health services. People are demanding it. They are already adopting the technology themselves. In terms of efficiency and patient safety and with adequate safeguards, it really is the single biggest change that we will see over the next 10 to 15 years.

Economy—budget surplus

MR GENTLEMAN: My question is to the Deputy Chief Minister, representing the Treasurer. Minister, can you advise how the government's management of the economy has contributed to the ACT budget surplus?

MS GALLAGHER: The ACT is experiencing a period of sustained economic growth and prosperity. The last few years have seen renewed economic activity providing a foundation for increased confidence in the ACT. This would not have been possible without running strong policies and initiatives and making some of those tough decisions since coming to office in 2001, decisions which have prepared this community for the future. We are building a better city and a stronger community by investing the dividends of our strong economy in the long term, with more money for hospitals, schools, tackling climate change and improving our local neighbourhoods.

One of the biggest initiatives that this government has made is the structural reforms of the 2006-07 budget. In the absence of these reforms, the budget would be in deficit by around $150 million per annum over the next four years instead of being in surplus. So the reforms were necessary, not because there was an immediate crisis, but because there would have been in the coming decades had the government not taken action. As a result of these reforms, the ACT now enjoys a very strong balance sheet.

It is important to recognise that the government's structural reforms were largely focused on efficiency gains and were not entirely reliant on revenue measures. About two-thirds of the adjustments were based on expenditure savings, and only about one-third related to revenue measures. The budget incorporated more than $100 million per annum in efficiency savings from more streamlined structures and reducing back-office costs. These reforms needed to be pursued, regardless of the short-term financial position.

Because of these reforms, the government has been able to invest in building a better city and a stronger community. We have made record investments in health and have provided an extra 147 fully staffed and equipped hospital beds. We are renewing our schools and building new schools in areas of high demand. We are investing in quality education. We have made the community safer with more police on the beat, and we are making our neighbourhoods better with investments in community facilities, parks, playgrounds and renovations of local shopping centres. We are upgrading and building new roads and have released new, affordable housing packages for Canberra


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