Page 1485 - Week 05 - Wednesday, 1 June 2022

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MS ORR: Chief Minister, given that the Australian Public Service is another major employer in Canberra, what does a change of government mean for the APS, and the flow-on effects for the ACT economy more broadly?

MR BARR: I thank Ms Orr for the question. What it means, principally, is value and respect, which was completely absent from the treatment of the Australian Public Service by the former federal government. The APS sustained, over nearly a decade, outsourcing, decentralisation and a denuding of its core capacity—all for purely ideological reasons. The new federal government is committed to building a stronger and more efficient Australian Public Service that delivers better outcomes for the community and that can offer frank and fearless advice to the federal government. That means working constructively with the men and women who make up the Australian Public Service and the unions who strengthen the public sector, and includes fair and equitable conditions and genuine bargaining to achieve better outcomes across the public sector.

So, this is good news for Canberra and good news for the many public servants who work across the Australian government. A strengthened public sector is good for Canberra’s economy. It is also good for the many non-government sectors that work in partnership with the Commonwealth, and indeed the small businesses and others who benefit from a strong ACT economy and a robust public sector. I think Canberrans are sick of the APS being used as a political football—decentralising it and using it as a space to find funds to fund pork-barrelling in other electorates. Hopefully, that era is over and behind us, and we can move forward with a stronger Australian Public Service that will mean a stronger nation.

ACT Health—elective surgery

MS LAWDER: My question is to the health minister. Last month, in May, you flagged suspending elective surgeries given the public health system is struggling with high demand and COVID cases. A question time brief prepared for you in late February revealed that, when you suspended non-essential elective surgeries in March 2020, that resulted in more than 1,500 patients becoming overdue for surgery just four months later—representing one quarter of the total waitlist. This year, how many patients have missed out on their surgery since you suspended the operations last month?

MS STEPHEN-SMITH: I thank Ms Lawder for the question. It is always a difficult choice to delay elective surgery. We know that that really means a difficult time for people. That is why we did everything we could to avoid having to make that decision. I want to be clear that the delays in elective surgery this time are not a full suspension of category 2 and 3 elective surgery. That did happen for Calvary Public Hospital earlier in the year in response to the beginning of the Omicron wave. It is now more of a case by case, we need to slow down elective surgery in order to be able to do all of the other things that our health system needs to do with the workforce challenges that our health system is facing and that every health system across the country is facing. I would refer members to this morning’s AM story on ABC about the Victorian health system and what other areas of our economy are facing. This is a

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