Page 2914 - Week 09 - Wednesday, 12 October 2022

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MR DAVIS (Brindabella) (10.52): As one would expect, I will probably provide a little bit more nuance in my contribution to the debate than members of the opposition—not only as the ACT Green spokesperson for health but also as somebody who, on a rough estimate, has spent close to 130 hours in TCH just in the last six weeks alone meeting and speaking with a number of doctors, nurses, midwives, AINs, hospital administrators, cleaners and even the hospitality staff at Zouki’s Cafe.

There is no denying that there are a number of opportunities in the health sector and in the health budget. I have been critical of areas where I think there is room for improvement, in particular, through my sponsorship of the petition from nurses, midwives and AINs, from the Australian Nursing Midwifery Federation. This has subsequently now formed an enquiry open for submissions in the Standing Committee on Health and Community Wellbeing.

As Ms Castley rightly points out, there are a number of challenges—sector-wide and nationwide challenges—for our frontline healthcare workers, but no doubt there are some specific challenges related to our hospitals and our healthcare systems. It is important that we take a forensic look at those and provide recommendations. It would be my hope and expectation that, once that report is finalised, we might be able to see some funding that meets the unions’ and the workforces’ expectations in subsequent budgets.

I too have some reservations around the most recent announcement for supporting healthcare workers—the around $8 million funding announcement. I do have some reservations about the work that has been done to consult with those frontline healthcare workers to ensure that that funding is meeting their expectations. There is, of course, going to be a challenge in how that funding is delivered in the coming weeks and months. I trust, along with Ms Castley, we will both be paying close attention to that.

Obviously what this budget does in large part is fund to the tune of tens of millions of dollars, nearly a hundred million dollars, the infrastructure needed for a growing city, and in particular the Canberra Hospital expansion project. I accept that it is a little bit of a challenge getting around the Canberra Hospital currently and getting around the precinct. Getting around a construction zone is never easy. But I am excited to see the cranes in the air, as I know many healthcare consumers and frontline healthcare workers are. I am excited to see the inevitable delivery of that hospital, which includes design and fit-out of a 64-bed inpatient unit; design work, costing and demolition for a new pathology building; design and costing for a new inpatient building; the demolition of Building 4; wayfinding upgrades; and staging and decanting planning for the next phases of the master plan. So there is an awful lot of work happening there.

One of the things that I perhaps would have like to have seen a little bit more of in the budget—and we will certainly be talking about it more in coming months—is a ‘prevention better than cure’ strategy. I, and I think most Canberrans, appreciate that ACT Health and Canberra Health Services have been focused on responding to the pandemic. There are some in our community, of course, who would like to pretend that the pandemic is over, but the pandemic is still very relevant and top of mind to all

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