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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2004 Week 7 Hansard (30 July) . . Page.. 3066..

MR STANHOPE (continuing):

that we have developed and the partnerships that we have created with the community-those with whom we are working and those who are working with us willingly to develop the mental health strategy.

MR SMYTH (Leader of the Opposition) (4.26): Mr Deputy Speaker, the opposition can accept Ms Tucker's amendment No 2 to my amendment. Paragraph (7) of my amendment states:

decries the lack of funding for the Plan in this year's Budget;

Ms Tucker's amendment seeks to add to paragraph (7) the words "particularly outreach and other community services for mental health consumers". Outreach and community services are particularly effective in dealing with mental health and so we will accept that. Ms Tucker's amendment No 1 seeks to omit paragraph (4) of my amendment, which "notes the lack of progress". I can live with that as well.

It is interesting to address the Chief Minister's assertions that we left his government the worst mental health service in the country. I have not seen a report that says that. It may have been at the lowest funding level but that does not necessarily equate to the worst service.

The Labor Party has been saying consistently for the first half of this year that they have actually doubled mental health funding. They have used an old report from 1999-2000 to say they had taken funding from $67 to $117. We have disproved that. There is another debate inside that debate, though. I do not have my numbers with me but the funding when we left office was approximately $82 per capita. It is now $117 per capita and it will go up because of the budget passed yesterday.

But what elements go into the jump from $82 to $117? There are two elements. One is additional funding and that equates to about $10 per head per capita. So that takes it from, say, $82 to $92 in broad figures. This leaves a discrepancy of about $25. That $25 is the transfer of overheads from the department into a stand-alone Mental Health ACT, and that is all it is. So let us be quite clear that when they claim they have lifted it from $82 or $83 to $117, it is not all new money. There is approximately $10 of new money per capita in that figure, and for that they are to be commended.

It is pleasing that we are in a position with the budget to afford to put more money into things like mental health. That is not a luxury we had when we came to government in 1996, and everyone will remember the $344 million operating loss that we were left with. We need the Chief Minister to say that all he did was transfer operating costs out of existing budgets to inflate the figure. That is the important part.

That said, we will be supporting the amendment. I will then call on the Assembly to support my amendment.

MS MacDONALD (4.29) Mr Deputy Speaker, I thank members for taking the time to contribute to this debate. I have no doubt that we all have a genuine desire to see mental health services being provided to support those people in our community in need.

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