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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2004 Week 02 Hansard (Tuesday, 2 March 2004) . . Page.. 501 ..

brought down by the previous government in relation to the Canberra hospital that was reviewed essentially by the Productivity Commission. It was their budget and their commitment—I think non-commitment would be more appropriate—to health care and health care delivery in the Canberra hospital that the Productivity Commission reported on and that Mr Smyth is now bagging. It is a classic case of shooting yourself in the foot.

It is important to look at what we inherited at that stage. Our memories are long enough not to have forgotten the state in which we found the Canberra hospital—the state in which nursing services were being provided, the absence of any commitment to radiation oncology services and of course the savagely flawed purchaser provider arrangements that simply divided and allowed no commitment to the delivery of seamless health service for the people of the ACT.

Those things have been addressed. We have brought nurses’ wages into line with those in New South Wales. We have overcome the enormous work force inadequacies that were being faced by nurses within the ACT health care system. We have worked hard and assiduously to deal with work force issues affecting radiation oncology and other parts of the hospital. We have made a proper and appropriate commitment to the funding of the Canberra hospital and to all of those people within the health work force throughout the ACT. These expenditures were long overdue. It is rather artful of the opposition to criticise, and it raises the question: exactly which additional expenditure of this government do the Liberals propose to cut? Would it be our additional expenditure in relation to wages and payments to people within the system, in relation to the commitment that we made to better health care delivery through the Canberra hospital, and indeed throughout the community, or the significant increase in funding for psychiatric and mental health care and facilities that is a hallmark of this government? Which of these initiatives, this additional resourcing, do the Liberals propose to cut?

The fundamental issue here is that Mr Smyth cannot criticise, as he has this week, up to the next election without saying which parts of Canberra hospital funding he is going to cut.

MR SPEAKER: Order! The time for the discussion has expired.

Human Rights Bill 2003

Debate resumed.

MRS DUNNE (4.43): I rise in support of my colleagues Bill Stefaniak and Steve Pratt to oppose this bill. Those colleagues have referred to the risks of transferring power from the legislature, with its checks and balances, to the courts. Today Ms Tucker noted in her speech that we have a history of minority governments. I for one think it is one of our protections in a unicameral system with no reserve powers. The Chief Minister rails at the fact that the power of this legislature—by which he means himself—should ever be constrained by the federal government, by the Australian Constitution or by the National Capital Authority. But what he proposes to do under this bill—although he is not here to listen to the speeches—is to hand over to the courts an even greater power to set aside the views of the legislature, without any of the checks and balances that come from a legislature.

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