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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2005 Week 08 Hansard (Thursday, 30 June 2005 2005) . . Page.. 2530 ..


thinks it up? Doctors think it up. Doctors make the assessment about who should be seen and when they should be seen. Doctors set the criteria.

Mr Speaker, through you, I say to the opposition: do not give me this nonsense that I am responsible for dreaming up criteria that prevent people from getting care. We have a system that is based on need and priority. That is the way a compassionate and sensibly run health system works and I will not accept the assertion that I develop criteria that prevent people from getting access to care. That is the sort of assertion that I find quite repugnant.

The issue at hand is about providing as many resources as possible to meet demand and to make sure that care is provided in as timely and as high-quality a way as possible to meet the requirements of people who need care. Again, it comes back to this fundamental point: the Liberals say that our health system costs too much and then they say that we should spend more money on it. They cannot have it both ways. If they were serious about saying that our health system costs too much they would identify where the opportunities were in the health system to reprioritise expenditure. They have not done that. All they have done is to find some money from some other portfolios and say it should be spent in there. So their arguments are without any substance. They do not have the credibility to say that the system costs too much and what should be done about it, because all they do about it is add more money to the system. That is their assertion. They do not focus on improving the way the system works.

This government is focusing on improving the way the system works. The most obvious example of that is actually outlined in the budget papers, if the opposition had bothered to read it. In the budget papers, in the appropriation, additional money for elective surgery is a specific initiative focused on system improvement of the way our theatres work. It is in the budget. We have funded the work so that we can improve the efficiency of our theatres and the efficiency of elective surgery procedures, because there are opportunities to do that. So the government is making the investment to address those issues. It is a pity that no-one on the other side of this place who has argued long and loud for the last three-quarters of an hour about the need to improve efficiency paid any acknowledgment to the fact that the government is doing just that and has funded the work to make it happen.

Mr Smyth talks about bed numbers. First of all, he does not believe that an extra 20 medical beds will be up and running. I will be very happy to prove him wrong. I will be very happy to prove him wrong very shortly. Of course, he fails to acknowledge that another 60 subacute beds have been funded in the budget provision for the development of a subacute facility at the Calvary Hospital. That project is moving apace. We expect that facility to be up and running next calendar year. That will bring to 80 the additional number of acute and subacute beds available in the ACT system.

Mr Smyth tries to draw a comparison with public hospital systems in other states and territories and the average number of beds. The point that is worth making there is that those other jurisdictions have many small rural and regional hospitals and those beds add to their calculation. We do not have small rural and regional hospitals. We do not have 20 beds here, 10 beds there and 15 beds over there, scattered across tens of country towns right round the state. We do not have that. We have two high-level tertiary care hospitals. We do not have lots of little hospitals. So, predictably, we do not have that


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