Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2006 Week 6 Hansard (7 June) . . Page.. 1890..
MRS DUNNE (Ginninderra) (6.14): I want to speak tonight about the crazy impact that the introduction of pay parking at hospitals will have on my constituents and other people who use Calvary Hospital. Members over the last little while will have been bombarded by emails from students of the medical school who will be adversely affected. To look just at their case, they will be paying roughly $800 a year out of their allowance of roughly $8,000 a year to park at Canberra Hospital and Calvary Hospital, where they must park to do their studies. These students are members of one of the few groups that will not receive some sort of exemption even though they are regular users of car parks at both of the hospitals. The system there is absolutely inequitable and it is a huge slug out of the allowance of a student.
If we are talking about fair working conditions, as Mr Gentleman always wants to do, we should take a leaf out of Mr Gentleman's book and think about the fair working conditions and the unreasonable imposts of this government upon medical students. First of all, it tries to encourage them to come here and then it says that it is going to slog them fairly significantly on this matter. The rationale is that the government is going put the money that it takes from parking fees back into the hospitals. The amount of money that we are talking about is chump change, Mr Speaker.
I want to deal particularly with Calvary Hospital. Parking at Calvary Hospital is absolutely and utterly chaotic at the moment and has been for a long time. Extra building on the site has removed a large number of parking spaces from Calvary Hospital. Most of the people wishing to park at Calvary at this stage cannot get a parking space, most of the people using it. One of the people who contacted me said that she works for an obstetrician at a private clinic and she is, in her words, sick to death of seeing her heavily pregnant patients having to slog through the bush and turn up late and stressed for their obstetrics appointments. Their blood pressure is already up and it is a great problem for their health.
Other people who have spoken to me are people who have orthopaedic patients or heart patients and there is no place to park at Calvary. People are parking in the bush and various places like that. The NRMA has been called out on a number of occasions to get cars out of ditches and off fallen limbs and things like that where they have been stuck inadvertently. People who are sick are having to walk long distances over unpaved areas and are becoming stressed about the lack of parking. This government wants to charge people to park at Calvary Hospital but does not do them the basic courtesy of providing them with somewhere to park.
I noticed in the budget that there is $2 million for extra parking at Canberra Hospital but there is no such provision for Calvary Hospital. I have written to the Minister for Health asking her to pull off her hare-brained scheme-it was actually Mr Corbell's hare-brained scheme and I thought that, now that we had a change of minister, we might have someone who sees some sense-and not to introduce pay parking at Calvary while ever there is such a paucity of parking there and to reconsider the proposal in the light of the great need at Calvary for extra parking. Of course, I got the standard answer that almost everybody else has gotten, that is, that this is government policy and the government is going ahead with it.