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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2006 Week 8 Hansard (24 August) . . Page.. 2646..

MS GALLAGHER (continuing):

the bypass hours are increasing; I think they fluctuate and move from time to time. From a perusal of the figures they show that there are peaks during the winter months. It has peaked for some time. If we go back over the years we find that winter has always been a period of stress compounding the fact that our emergency departments are busier than ever.

As I said, the figures are up by six per cent on the figures for last year, with almost 100,000 presentations to the emergency department compared to about 93,000 in 2004-05. So our emergency departments are getting bigger. I agree with Mr Smyth that measures have to be put in place to meet demand. We are putting those measures in place. We have additional beds, for which Mr Smyth is always calling. By the time the appropriation bills have been passed and the extra beds are delivered through this budget, this government will have funded 126 beds, with 50 in place now and the rest to follow in 2006-07.

The beds range from medical beds to intensive care, to sub-acute beds, to short stay beds, and to transitional aged care beds. Of course, that is the responsible thing to do because we have demands in different areas. We need to prioritise additional beds in areas where there is a demand; so we have put in place a range of measures. I would be happy to brief Mr Smyth on the access improvement program, if he is interested, which looks at ways of delivering efficiencies on the ground within the hospital. At the moment that is working in the emergency department in the aged care and mental health areas.

We are increasing the capacity of the hospital system to meet increasing demands. We are changing the way that things are being done. I can talk more about these issues with Mr Smyth if he would like me to do so. This government has put in place a range of measures. I do not think it matters what government is in office. On a daily basis at different times of the year there will be periods when one hospital will need to make a decision to go into a load-sharing or bypass arrangement with the other hospital, simply because we cannot predict what will be the demand on a daily basis.

Counter-terrorism planning

MS MacDONALD: My question is to the Minister for Police and Emergency Services. Minister, can you please advise the Assembly on the activities that will take place next week to test the ACT's counter-terrorism capability?

MR CORBELL: I thank Ms MacDonald for the question. Next week we will see a major three-day counter-terrorism training exercise occurring in the ACT. It will involve ACT government agencies, ACT Policing and our emergency services. A print, radio and television advertising awareness campaign will start this week to advise Canberrans of traffic and transport disruptions associated a major counter-terrorism exercise.

The exercise, called AUGUST ACT, is part of an ongoing, nationally coordinated program of regular counter-terrorism exercises designed to ensure that Australia has effective, coordinated systems in place to deal with potential terrorist situations. It is part of the National Counter-Terrorism Committee's exercise program involving all states and territories and the Australian government.

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