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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2014 Week 5 Hansard (15 May) . . Page.. 1592..

So the experience in growth that we are seeing in the emergency department is much greater and cannot be put down simply to, "Oh, well, it is population growth,"and that we could have planned for this. I would also say that the larger jurisdictions have many, many hospitals, not just two. They have small hospitals, medium size hospitals and large hospitals.

There are also situations where each jurisdiction has greater bulk-billing rates than our GPs offer here. The national average is 80 per cent, which probably goes to some degree to explain why we have a higher utilisation of our emergency department. I think there are a lot of variables here, including what starts and stops the clock. There is no consistency on that either. So I look at these figures and I think that it is hard to compare jurisdiction to jurisdiction.

But having said all that, at the end of the day it is about the patients who walk in the door and we want to make sure that they are seen, that they are seen as quickly as possible and that people who are the sickest get the care fastest. I do not use it as an excuse. We will continue to work away on this. I expect we will continue to see improvement in this area.

Legal aid—federal funding

MR GENTLEMAN: My question is to the Attorney-General. In this week's federal budget ACT legal aid funding was cut by $400,000 for the 2014-15 period. What will be the impact of this cut in funding in the ACT?

MR CORBELL: I thank Mr Gentleman for his question. It is deeply disturbing that we have seen in the budget brought down on Tuesday a cut of $15 million in legal aid funding nationally over the next four years. We oppose these cuts here in the ACT, and all members—indeed, those on the other side of the house as well—should join with us in opposing these cuts because they will have a direct impact on access to justice. Fewer resources to meet legal aid need means more and more serious legal problems facing the courts to the detriment of those in need. The information we have on legal aid services tells us that these cuts will target the most disadvantaged in our community. Once again, we see this federal Liberal government imposing cuts that have a disproportionate impact on the most vulnerable in our community.

Mr Smyth: You didn't shed a single tear when Labor did it.

MR CORBELL: Mr Smyth does not like it, but it is the truth. These cuts will increase costs on our justice system because legal problems that might have been adverted with earlier advice will balloon into more serious problems. The impacts on disadvantaged Canberrans cannot be understated. The additional funding that was provided by the federal Labor government has been used primarily to assist dispute resolution in matters involving Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, including family law and care and protection matters concerning children. This is the type of representation that will now be denied to those people because of this cruel and arbitrary cut on the part of Tony Abbott and his Liberal colleagues.

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