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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2010 Week 07 Hansard (Thursday, 1 July 2010) . . Page.. 3071 ..

serious, instead of just having a debate, as the minister does, about inputs—“we’re putting more money in; we’ve got a plan”—we need to have a debate, as Mr Hanson has started, about the future of health in the ACT. If members have not read it, I would commend Mr Hanson’s paper about the future of health.

We have got to look at the issues holistically. We have got to look at the issues about the genuine long term and what we can do to prevent people from becoming unwell. The statistics say that about one-third of the people that present at accident and emergency are chronic illness sufferers. If they were treated better, if they were treated earlier and if they had preventative health plans, they could be kept away from the accident and emergency department.

If we took a third of the pressure off the A&E, that would be a tremendous thing, apart from which it would take pressure off the Ambulance Service. The Ambulance Service is often seen by some as a taxi: “I can’t get there. I’ll wait till I’m ill. I’ve not controlled my chronic illness. I will use the taxi with the flashing lights to get me to the hospital.” Again, we as a society have to take responsibility and we have to assist those who have problems. I am sure the vast majority of those with a chronic illness are doing their best. Their families are doing what they can.

Part of the answer to the long-term problems that face us in health is the way that we deal with the fundamentals. We are treating at the end of the equation instead of at the start. What if we have givens and knowns—if we know who have the chronic illnesses, we know where they are in society and we know what needs to be done to prevent their chronic illnesses from moving out of control and thereby placing additional stress on those individuals and on their health and, again, putting an additional call onto the health system? This really calls for a rethink. We are not getting that rethink from the health minister. We are certainly not getting that rethink of the whole approach from the government.

Mr Hanson has made a great start in putting out that paper. He is having the discussions. He is having the forums. We are talking. We are doing the hard work as the opposition because the government is not doing the hard work. We are doing the hard work by getting out and holding the forums and talking to the stakeholders to find out what it is they want in a health system. Instead of being at the bar, or instead of being—(Time expired.)

MS GALLAGHER (Molonglo—Deputy Chief Minister, Treasurer, Minister for Health and Minister for Industrial Relations) (12.17): I thank members for their contributions to this important line in the budget. I must say that I will listen to lectures from Mr Smyth on a number of things, but one thing on which I cannot listen to him—and on which he has no credibility—is mental health. The lowest per capita spend on mental health in the country was your legacy, Mr Smyth. That is your legacy, one that you are proud of. Then you have the nerve to stand up here year after year when you are not responsible and say that we do not spend enough on mental health. What a position to be in. To do nothing when you were in government and then to lecture us when we have moved considerably to improve the mental health system—

Mr Smyth: Has it got better?

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