Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2005 Week 15 Hansard (Thursday, 15 December 2005) . . Page.. 4927 ..
MS MacDONALD: I ask a supplementary question. Chief Minister, what are some of the further highlights of the government’s achievements in the past year, specifically in the areas that you have not already talked about?
MR STANHOPE: I thank Ms MacDonald. It is well worth looking at some of the major achievements in the last year in relation to health—the area of Mr Corbell’s responsibilities. From October 2004 to October 2005 there was an eight per cent increase in case weighted separations. To the end of October 2005 our hospitals reported 73,108 outpatient occasions of service—a seven per cent increase. From January 2005 to September 2005 there was an eight per cent decrease in elective surgery. We provided 9,861 child dental services—a jump of 20 per cent on the total for the same time in the last financial year. Our community nurses provided 10 per cent more services in the first four months of the year. An additional 20 medical beds have been provided across the system and the ninth operating theatre has opened at Canberra hospital.
Compare these achievements in relation to health to the legacy of the other side. Who could ever forget the appalling state of mental health when we came to government? We had the lowest per capita expenditure on mental health in the nation by far. It was an indelible shame that we have worked assiduously for four years to overcome. Can you believe that the most affluent community in the country inherited from Brendan Smyth four years ago the lowest level of per capita expenditure on mental health in the nation by far! Through Minister Simon Corbell we have dragged that expenditure up to where we are now—above the national average and heading for the top of the tree in relation to mental health expenditure in Australia.
Dwell on what we inherited from this mob four years ago in relation to health services, in particular mental health. Brendan Smyth’s attitude to mental health resulted in the lowest per capita level of expenditure on mental health in the country by a country mile. It was an absolute disgrace! Let us look at Brendan Smyth’s legacy: Brendan Smyth and Impulse; Brendan Smyth and the Bruce Stadium; Brendan Smyth and mental health. What a disaster!
And then there is this leader in waiting who did not in the end have the bottle to take up the challenge. He is the Peter Costello of the ACT Assembly. He did not have it in him. He even came to the government during the year and tried to do a deal on a motion on which they could cross the floor. He had the bottle to come to me and ask me to participate in a motion on which he could cross the floor to vote just to embarrass his leader. Here he is now—the calm and suave leader in waiting, the Peter Costello of the ACT Assembly. He should go back to selling tobacco to kids. He was better at it.
But I want to talk about other areas of responsibility of my ministers. In education we continue to perform, nationally and internationally, way above our weight. The jurisdiction achieved the best results in Australia in years 3, 5 and 7. It ranked highest or second highest in Australia in years 3, 5 and 7; maintained the trend of previous years with 95 per cent of year 3 students achieving at or above the benchmark standard for reading and numeracy; and showed a significant improvement for year 5 reading with 96 per cent at or above benchmark, the highest percentage in Australia. In writing there was a considerable improvement in results with 94 per cent of years 3 and 5 students and