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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 5 Hansard (7 May) . . Page.. 1639..


Public transport-Oaks Estate

MS TUCKER: My question to the Minister for Urban Services relates to the public transport needs of the residents of Oaks Estate. Minister, I understand that it has been the government's view that it is acceptable for these residents to use the New South Wales bus service. But that service is not integrated with ACTION for concessions, day tickets and so on. There are a lot of public housing tenants in Oaks Estate, as I am sure you are aware. There are issues for them in being able to afford to get to Canberra for the services to which they are entitled. What are you doing so that Oaks Estate residents can access services by public transport?

MR CORBELL: I am not familiar with the circumstances but would be happy to investigate them and come back to Ms Tucker.

Health funding

MS MacDONALD: My question is to the Minster for Health. Minister, the Liberal leader has criticised you and the Labor government for not doing enough in this budget for health. Minister, can you outline for the Assembly what the Stanhope Labor government is in fact doing for the people of the ACT in this year's health budget and, further, how does this differ from what the Liberals did or did not do for health when they had their hands on the purse strings?

MR CORBELL: I am very happy to answer this question because criticisms from Mr Smyth really suggest that he does not care if another 600 people and their families in the ACT do or do not get access to elective surgery. In fact, he is prepared to dismiss that out of hand. He does not seem to care, Mr Speaker, if approximately the same number do not get extra access to dental surgery in the ACT on the public waiting lists, which is what this budget delivers.

Nor does he seem to care-and this is a bit of a trend for the Liberals-whether there is any increased funding for mental health. This government has increased mental health funding by close to $3.5 million recurrently since it came to office, but what did we see from them, under the previous administration, in relation to mental health services? The bottom line is not a lot at all, Mr Speaker. So poor is their record that the territory still ranks at the very bottom of expenditure in mental health per head of population of any state or territory in the country.

This government is determined to try to address that trend and turn it around. In our first two budgets, we delivered close to $3.5 million recurrent in mental health expenditure. That is a strong and powerful statement, Mr Speaker, of this government's commitment. This budget, of course, delivers more than that. The budget delivers $4.5 million of extra funding to completely refurbish the remaining areas of the paediatric ward at the Canberra Hospital.

Mr Smyth: It is less than growth.

MR CORBELL: Mr Smyth says "it is less than growth". You are misleading people, Mr Smyth. Let me read out the figures to you again. In the last two years of the


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