Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2006 Week 2 Hansard (7 March) . . Page.. 368..
MS GALLAGHER (continuing):
Hopefully, if this position is acceptable to the teachers union, this could bring an end to the dispute prior to any industrial action next week which, of course, in the end will only inconvenience students and their families who have to make alternative arrangements on those days. Hopefully, there is some work we can do in the meantime and avoid this industrial action but, at the end of the day, they are the two positions on the table for the AEU to consider. At the end of the day, they keep teachers at that No 1 level across the country, enjoying the best conditions, the best pay.
We are having no trouble attracting graduates leaving university or obtaining teachers. We have 10 teachers on a waiting list for every teaching position we advertise. There are people waiting to teach in our schools. There are not people rushing across the border, as the AEU would have you think. There is absolutely no problem with our ability to attract and retain. Teachers see the ACT as a desirable place to teach. The conditions are great; they are supported by a government that supports public education; they can enjoy teaching children in small classes; and there is a well-educated population.
There is absolutely no problem with our attracting teachers, and attracting teachers on a starting salary that is above lawyers, architects and health professionals, which is as it should be. I have no problem with that. With commencing salaries around $46,000 to $48,000, we will have no problems attracting and retaining teachers. I hope the AEU reconsider their position and we are able to avoid the strike action next week.
MR MULCAHY: My question is to the Minister for Health. Minister, as we now know, Professor Richardson's research shows that access block and overcrowding at Canberra's hospitals are associated with around 13 deaths a year. In his editorial on Richardson's research in the Medical Journal of Australia, Professor Peter Cameron remarks: "It is obvious that making elderly or disabled patients wait on uncomfortable emergency trolleys in corridors with sleep deprivation and minimal privacy is inhumane."
Minister, making patients wait on uncomfortable emergency trolleys in corridors is now a regular occurrence at our hospitals. Why have your reforms in the last few years failed to end this inhumane practice of patients waiting on uncomfortable emergency trolleys at Canberra's hospitals?
MR CORBELL: We are tackling this issue. I do not know where Mr Mulcahy has been for the rest of question time today, but I can only say it again: access block at the Canberra Hospital emergency department is on the decrease, not the increase. It is down from 45 per cent to 27 per cent in the past 12 months. That is evidence that the government is addressing and tackling this problem. That means fewer people waiting longer than eight hours from the time of arrival until the time they are admitted into a ward. That means fewer people having long waits to get into a ward. That means fewer people clogging up the emergency department. That means more people getting access when they need it.
The government's reforms are working, and they are working comprehensively, whether it is discharge procedures, emergency medicine units, new arrangements to assist older Canberrans to get the care they need in their own homes, issues around falls prevention