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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2004 Week 10 Hansard (26 August) . . Page.. 4367..


MR SMYTH (continuing):

going to save money on the restructure. The question has to be asked: was that achieved? To which the answer is a very blunt no.

What happened? Well, let's read from the annual report the year after. The annual report and, indeed, the current minister, Mr Corbell, at that time were quite up front about the fact that the blow-out was a result of the departmental restructure. How much was the blow-out? It was $38 million following the restructure of the department of health and the hospital. I quote from the annual report of the year:

Total expenditure including the extraordinary expenditure for the year ended 31 June 2003 was $510 million, which was $37.89 million higher than the amended budget of $472 million. This increase is mainly the result of expenditures. This largely represents planned expenditure of the Canberra Hospital and Community Care that was reported in the department's accounts following the restructure of Health mid-year.

The restructure led to the $38 million blow-out. Mr Corbell, in the report, goes on to say:

Following the restructure of health and because of the limitations imposed through the Financial Management Act on changing departmental budgets, expenditures and revenues would be higher in the year's end accounts.

And that is it. What a difference a year makes. We were going to save $200,000 and have a better system. What did we end up with? A $38 million blow-out. It is not just the $38 million blow-out. You could almost accept the blow-out if it actually resulted in something, but what it resulted in was a blow-out in the hospital waiting list.

It results from a couple of things. First and foremost it is the $31/2 million cut that the Chief Minister, the then health minister, applied to Calvary Hospital. He said, and I quote from the estimates hearings:

Yes, there are resources issues and implications in relation to this. It's a tight budget. There's a whole range of things we would love to have done that we didn't. We made a range of painful cuts. These are matters for judgment, always.

But I have to ask: at that time-Mr Stefaniak, I am sure, will correct me-wasn't there money in the budget for concentration on a bill of rights and wasn't there money in the budget at that stage for an education inquiry that certainly affected at least a third of the health sector?

In regard to the management of the health portfolio, we actually managed to perform fewer operations in the first full year of the Labor government. It went from 14,168 cost-weighted separations in the 2001-02 budget, a budget we set in place, to 12,265 in the first full year of Labor in office-2,000 fewer surgeries. And there's the rub. The portfolio has been managed so badly, so poorly, that it was not even delivering what it used to deliver.

There is the restructure. Firstly: we are going to come to office; spend $6 million; we are going to fix it. It was going to be better. The restructure was an absolute disaster. We had the measure of the level of disaster in the Press Ganey results of those years. What Press Ganey said was that we were in the lowest 10 per cent of public hospitals in that class.


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