Page 2971 - Week 09 - Wednesday, 12 October 2022

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question, through you, Mr Assistant Speaker, was that I would hope that we could all agree in this place that we would not just agree but actually encourage Canberra families and Canberra parents to take their children to the Canberra Hospital or to Calvary Public Hospital in Bruce when they are unwell. Media releases like we have seen issued this week, headlines like we have seen written this week and debates like we have seen in the chamber today from Ms Castley—who, granted, had the briefing during the lunch break and may not have had the opportunity to rewrite her speech—do risk undermining public confidence in that healthcare system.

I have been happy, on occasion, to join with Ms Castley, in spite of whatever political risk that presents to me, when I believe Ms Castley, as a fellow of the non-executive, makes criticism of the executive that I am inclined to agree with or share.

Mr Cain: Do you have confidence in the minister?

MR DAVIS: I will take that interjection. Mr Cain just asked me if I had confidence in the minister. That actually proves the political MO of this opposition. They will just jump straight to confidence. It is 100 or nothing with this lot. It is 100 or nothing with this lot because it is about getting a scalp and it is about getting a headline.

Mr Cain: Confidence is important to the community.

MR DAVIS: I have confidence in the health minister, Mr Cain. I try to bring nuance to my political debate—and I know my Greens colleagues on the crossbench try to bring nuance to the political debate—but I think we can have genuine criticisms of shortcomings without wanting to throw the baby out with the bathwater and put you lot in charge. I think that is possible. I would encourage members of the opposition, when they want to engage in policy debates, particularly policy debates that risk undermining confidence in public health services, like this, to find it in themselves to engage with a little bit of nuance.

As Minister Stephen-Smith referenced in her speech, the Canberra electorate are very switched on, very engaged people, who understand these debates, understand complexities and understand that the health system is still structurally, financially and operationally recovering from the effects of the pandemic, more than any part of the economy or society. If you think the pandemic is over, spend some time at the Canberra Hospital and you will know that it is not. I think Canberrans might actually take the opposition bit more seriously if they were prepared to engage with Canberrans on challenging policy issues with a little bit of nuance.

Ms Castley even said in her remarks: “The health system has completely let down
Canberrans.” Say that to everybody who got free vaccines through the pandemic. Say that to the thousands of people currently at our two public hospitals receiving public health care. Say that to members of my own family who have received lifesaving care in the last few weeks because of our robust, well-resourced public healthcare system.

It is hyperbole, it is dramatisation, it is headline seeking and, by doing it, you risk undermining confidence in the public health system. So, please, Canberra Liberals opposition: when you have a point, I will back you. When I agree with you, I will say

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