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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2010 Week 02 Hansard (Thursday, 25 February 2010) . . Page.. 780 ..


MR ASSISTANT SPEAKER: Mr Hanson, this is the last time. Next time it is a warning.

MS GALLAGHER: The point I am trying to make is that it is extremely easy to come in here and bang out the same speech you have been banging out for two years, changing it a little bit for your own convenience; it is another thing to actually pursue and care about an issue enough to try to deliver some change. And that is what we are trying to do. We are trying to reform the health system; we are trying to create new services, build new capacity and fund it in a sustainable way. That is the government’s plan; that is what we have been doing; it is what we will continue to do and without the assistance of the opposition.

MR ASSISTANT SPEAKER: Before I go to Ms Bresnan, members, we have had a reasonable debate so far. I would ask you to address your remarks through the chair and not have conversations across the chamber. If you want to have conversations, you can do it in the form of a debate or use the lobbies.

MS BRESNAN (Brindabella) (3.56): I thank Mr Hanson for raising this matter of public importance today. We are privileged in the ACT to enjoy levels of health and wellbeing that are amongst the best in the country. We are privileged to live in a territory that enjoys comparatively high education levels, high rates of employment and income and low mortality rates.

There is always, of course, a commitment and desire from leaders, advocates and stakeholders to see our health system improved, and there are, of course, improvements that can be made to our health system in the ACT.

I would like to start by noting that our health system is not merely comprised of hospitals. Our health system is also about whether or not we are able to keep people well, out of hospital and living healthy lives. It comprises actions government take in preventative health and primary and allied healthcare. It is also about the manner in which we assist people to go through that difficult process when their life is coming to its end. The growth in chronic illness and our ageing population will be a major challenge to our health system in coming years, and health budgets will continue to face exponential demand.

There are three key issues that governments at state, territory and federal level need to address if they are to decrease the incidence of chronic illness, and those three issues are obesity, alcohol and smoking. Imagine if junk food and alcohol companies were not allowed to sponsor sports events or even if junk food companies could not advertise to children. Imagine if every child was able to walk to school, or local residents were encouraged to eat healthy produce that was grown locally. Unfortunately, governments often find these issues too tough to tackle, despite the rewards which these actions would reap.

The recent report from the federal government’s preventative health task force, while promising much in this area, fell well short of making any tough recommendations around this, and it did very much seem to be like a more of the same approach. This


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