Page 2969 - Week 09 - Wednesday, 12 October 2022
about these issues and not to discourage families from bringing their sick children and young people to the emergency department when they need emergency care, because they will get that clinical care. I commend my amendment to the Assembly.
MR DAVIS (Brindabella) (3.56): I will make a few remarks in my capacity as the chair of the Assembly’s Standing Committee on Health and Community Wellbeing before I turn to my substantive remarks. The minister referenced it in her speech but, for the Assembly’s benefit, the committee facilitated a meeting today with the minister and her officials from ACT Health and Canberra Health Services to discuss paediatric screening and paediatric health care in the Canberra Hospital. Members of the committee, Dr Paterson and Mr Milligan, were there and, on invitation, the shadow health minister, Ms Castley, joined us. That is the end of comments in my capacity as chair, just to preface further comments around that issue.
Mr Assistant Speaker Pettersson, I would like you, for a moment, if you could, to imagine being a parent with a subscription to the Canberra Times, or perhaps you subscribe to the CityNews and you saw the earlier reporting this week flagging Ms Castley’s motion, saying that the paediatric ward at the Canberra Hospital was closed. Imagine that your child was unwell in the days afterwards and imagine the judgements that you may have been forced to make, based on that available information. I find that very concerning because, as the minister highlighted in her remarks, no-one has been or will be turned away from Canberra health services when they need to access health care. No-one has been and no-one will be.
While we all love a robust debate about all manner of issues in this place, I think it would behove the opposition to be a little bit more creative in their commentary to make sure that, when they are trying to criticise what the government is doing, as oppositions rightly do, they do it in a way that does not undermine public confidence in our healthcare systems. I think headlines like that on press releases and the headlines written by a number of Canberra mastheads are very damaging for parents of young people who may have needed to, in the past couple of days, access health care.
Let me share with the Assembly some of the things that I have learnt by taking advantage of today’s briefing. The first is that every single young person, indeed every single person, who presents to the Canberra Hospital requiring free, world-class public health care will be provided with free, world-class public health care. The paediatric wing in the hospital, which is separate to the emergency room, consists of six beds and two consultation spaces. I asked the question specifically to officials as to whether there was any difference in the provision of health care in those spaces to the provision of health care in the broader emergency room, and I was responded to with: “Other than decals on the windows or perhaps Finding Nemo playing on the TV, no difference, Mr Davis.” So I hope any parents listening to this debate are assured by that—that there are beds available, that there are spaces available, and that their young person, if they require it, will receive care at the Canberra Hospital.
The reason that, for the second time today, I have had to implore the opposition to try and find some nuance in their bulldozer-style crash or crash-through political debate is particularly pertinent when it comes to talking about health care. There is no denying that I have probably ruffled a few feathers in my own government by my