Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2004 Week 4 Hansard (31 March) . . Page.. 1419..
MR CORBELL (continuing):
comes from and our record is a strong one, improving funding for mental health services. That is where the statistics come from.
Mr Smyth: But you only put in $3.4 million.
MR CORBELL: I know that Mr Smyth does not like it and I know that he gets frustrated about it, but that is the reality and that is what is in the report.
MR HARGREAVES: I have a supplementary question. I would like to know how the current level of expenditure differs from the levels of previous years.
MR CORBELL: How it differs is that the national mental health report 2002 showed that mental health funding actually declined under the Canberra Liberals when they were last in government. It actually went down from $68.6 per head of population in 1996-97 to $63.7 per head of population in 1997-98. What an outstanding record! What an absolutely outstanding record on which to go to the people of Canberra-an actual decline! Do you know what, Mr Speaker? Those are not even the ACT government's figures. They are the figures of the national mental health report, the key leading indicator on mental health funding across Australia. Guess what, Mr Speaker! There is more.
Mr Smyth: It is dishonest to compare different figures.
MR CORBELL: You do not like it, do you, Mr Smyth? You do not like it when your record is shown up to be completely inadequate. Let's just see what happened in 1998-99. Guess what! It went down again, Mr Speaker.
MR SPEAKER: Order! Direct your comments through the chair, please, Mr Corbell.
MR CORBELL: Certainly, Mr Speaker. It went down again. In 1998-99 it was $63.1 per head of population, down from $63.7, so the miserable decline continued under the Liberal Party. What happened when they went to the last election, Mr Speaker? What sorts of measures did they propose to address this significant decline? There was a mere extra $74,000, Mr Speaker. That was the full commitment-a mere extra $74,000.
Mr Smyth: Careful.
MR CORBELL: Mr Speaker, no wonder Mr Smyth knows that it is a sore point. No wonder Mr Smyth is trying desperately to make up ground, even if it means making promises that he cannot keep and cannot pay for. He is so desperate to make up ground that he will promise the world to try to address the failure of the previous government. In contrast, this government will continue its comprehensive program of reform and improve funding in mental health services.
MRS CROSS: My question is to the Minister for Health, Mr Corbell. Minister, can you assure the people of the ACT that there will not be a cover-up here should the ACT experience similar problems to those that have occurred in western Sydney hospitals? In some New South Wales hospitals, serious claims of patient mismanagement, resulting in