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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2004 Week 7 Hansard (30 July) . . Page.. 3085..

MR QUINLAN (continuing):

Minister for Sport, Racing and Gaming, and Acting Minister for Planning) (5.49): Mr Speaker, I had surgery coming up a year ago. Before that surgery I was checked out-blood pressure and whatever-to make sure that I was in reasonable shape to have the surgery, and of course the matter of whether I smoked came up then.

I think this motion, as amended, is well intentioned, but we are getting to the point where we are standing in here being very prescriptive about what the medical profession in our hospitals do. I just wonder how the medical profession, which we are to some extent demeaning by telling them how to suck eggs, would feel if they were listening to this debate. What has been said is all quite high-minded.

I do not know what your relationship has been with whatever medical practitioners have provided service in recent years-

Mrs Cross: Pretty good.

MR QUINLAN: Yes-and your doctor is going to say you have got to get off smoking. What some doctors are even talking about now is, "If you don't intend to give up smoking, you can't have bypass surgery. Get to the back of the queue."

Mrs Cross: That's not what the motion says, Ted.

MR QUINLAN: Yes, but what I am saying is that, when you become involved in any form of surgery of a major nature, do you think you are not going to go through this process? Do you think your doctor is not going to be telling you that? I just wonder how you do it. If the ACT government was going to tell me to give up smoking when I had surgery a year or so ago, I wonder how they were going to do it. I do not know-by finding out that I was going to hospital and sending me a note? Or did I have to attend somewhere-this is the pre-op?

It is well intentioned, but this is really telling the process to suck eggs. I am also advised that the hospital is going through training programs and training nurses to handle smokers and to assist.

Ms Dundas: No, training administrators to train nurses.

MR QUINLAN: Yes. Well, they are the ones who actually relate to the patient on a regular basis. I know you want the smoking Nazi to come around-

MR SPEAKER: Order! Order! One at a time.

Ms MacDonald: Anti-smoking Nazi.

MR QUINLAN: Anti-smoking. So the hospital is taking positive steps. I know a lot has been said. I will repeat what I said last evening, at the risk of a very strong adverse reaction. It is often said that our nurses are under strain. You just say that; it is automatic, we assume that. But I do counsel you to look at some of the figures and look at our productivity versus the rest of Australia before you make those claims.

Amendment agreed to.

MS DUNDAS (5.53): I thank members for their support and participation in this debate. I think we agree that health care outcomes for members of the community are paramount, and it is something we are all focused on. The motion calls on the government to offer free quit smoking counselling to all smokers admitted to ACT public hospitals. It is not calling on the government to ram this program down smokers' throats; it is an offer of counselling-and it is the counselling that makes a difference.

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