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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2004 Week 4 Hansard (30 March) . . Page.. 1276..

Mr Smyth: And you decide.

MR STANHOPE: Somebody has to decide. I cannot just say, "The coroner said everybody who feels they need separate representation should have it. Right, just do it for everybody who rings up and says, 'Look, I'd like my own barrister'"and then approve a barrister. I understand that between 40 and 50 people have now made an approach about the need for or level of representation. That is unreasonable; it is unworkable and untenable, particularly in a circumstance where we can pursue other options to ensure that they are appropriately represented and supported.

Mental health

MR HARGREAVES: Can the Minister for Health inform the Assembly whether the government has made an assessment of the opposition's financial commitments on mental health?

MR CORBELL: Yes, the government has made an assessment of the opposition's unrealistic promises in relation to mental health in a policy that the opposition released yesterday. The government has done so to ensure that there is a strong understanding within the government and, indeed, the broader community of the financial impact of these commitments. There is nothing worse than making a promise that you cannot deliver on. Unfortunately, that is exactly what the Liberal Party has done.

The opposition has made a promise to reduce the average caseworker workload to 12 patients per case manager. That is an admirable aim. Unfortunately, they have not got any money to achieve that. Let me highlight the facts. Currently, ACT Health employs 70 case managers. To facilitate a reduction in the case load to an average of 12 would require-wait for it-an extra 120 case workers. Currently, ACT Mental Health has 6,291 clients, of whom just over 2,000 are case managed. That would be a 171 per cent increase in the work force and the cost would be an additional $9.4 million per annum, or $36 million over four years. The Liberal Party have committed only $20 million over four years. Already, on the first commitment, the budget has gone right out the window-there goes the money-and they could not deliver on their commitment.

Already, we are in the red to the tune of many millions of dollars, but let us not let reality interfere with the opposition's perception of public policy on these issues. The opposition has also promised to set up and run a forensic mental health facility as part of the prison project. This is an interesting policy direction from the opposition. The reason for that is that earlier this year the opposition's spokesperson on health advocated that this sort of facility should be part of the hospital. I quote him from Hansard:

There are facilities. The key is the case load. We-

that is, the Liberal Party-

would establish a time-out facility and make sure there is a forensic unit as part of the hospital.

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