Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2004 Week 7 Hansard (29 June) . . Page.. 2869..
MR WOOD (continuing):
The new Australian hospitals statistics report that the average patient stay in the ACT costs $4,128-approximately 30 per cent above the national average. It is something we have to work on. It is because of what I indicated before about the comprehensive range of services. But it also says that we have a lot more talking to do as we come up to new agreements with New South Wales.
In a small system such as the ACT's, our hospitals have limited ability to transfer patients to other sites. That tends to drive up reported costs per admission. We look at the statistics from the AIHW each year and it is clear, from the material I have spoken about, that we respond. We know there is heavy pressure on our health system. The government's response is indeed very effective.
MR STEFANIAK: My question is also to Mr Wood but in his capacity as minister for police. Statistics published in the Productivity Commission's Report on Government Services 2004 showed that the ACT continues to have the lowest number of police per 100,000 people in Australia.
In an editorial in the latest issue of the Australian Federal Police Association's journal, the association claims that this government has not fulfilled its 2001 election promise to "implement a program to restore the number of police officers"-in Canberra-"to go to at least the national average". The editorial went on, "Sadly, the recent ACT Budget showed the contempt the Stanhope Government has for its own promises and the brave men and women of the ACT police function."
Minister, why has the ACT government failed to meet its election commitment on police numbers as highlighted by the AFPA?
MR WOOD: I will tell you one thing about police numbers and it is a pretty stark figure: there are a lot more police now than there were when those opposite were running the police force.
Mr Smyth: How many more?
MR WOOD: There are up to 21 as from a couple of days ago. In fact, we will go up to 786 and I will check that figure. Your figures were very low and, in particular, disastrously low when, without any question at all, you thought that you could send people off to East Timor and it would have no impact on police in the ACT.
I am surprised that those people over there ask questions about police numbers because, all the time they were in office, they never added to the police budget. There were the CPI increases, mind you-
Mr Smyth: Do you stand by that-that we never added to the police budget?
MR WOOD: Okay, you did not add-
MR SPEAKER: Order, members of the opposition!