Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2018 Week 01 Hansard (Wednesday, 14 February 2018) . . Page.. 133 ..
I am calling on the minister to explain why he has allowed our Ambulance Service to become so grossly under-resourced that last year over 40 per cent of shifts were under minimum crewing level. Did the minister not know what was happening inside his own portfolio or is he so incompetent that he thinks having enough staff 60 per cent of the time is a good enough system?
There is a great deal to explain. However, knowing the way things go, he will not give an explanation. There will not be an apology and there will no doubt be an attempt to tell me that I am wrong or my colleagues are wrong and then claim that there is not a problem. He will claim that the new recruitment was always coming and that we should never have had any concerns. He will also say that they are meeting response times. Yes, but at what cost? At the cost of the wellbeing of ambulance workers and the cost of proper workforce management?
In this government’s and this minister’s normal way, he will come into the chamber, as I already knew when I wrote this speech a few days ago, and deflect the situation, try to shift debate to an area he wants to talk about. The minister will move an amendment to the motion to turn it into something completely different to what it actually is. I am glad to say I am slightly wrong there; he has kept the first half of my motion in his amendment.
He will make the case when he is done that nothing is wrong, nothing to see here, and are we not a wonderful government? It is becoming a tired old trick used here where the government uses its numbers to try to erase or change history, erase a poor record. The community is getting sick of the spin, sick of the self-protection, sick of an old, tired government trying to find a reason to blame others for lack of competence and lack of interest in basic workforce planning.
I will not be giving up. No matter how much political spin is put on the mess, you have been caught out. I just hope and pray that it does not take a more serious crisis for you to take this matter seriously. Maybe the minister has too much going on; maybe this is not the best role for him; maybe he needs to get help. Nonetheless, not meeting community expectations or basic workforce management is not good enough for the people of the ACT.
The Chief Minister earlier this week excitedly talked about the 7,000-person increase in Canberra’s population over the last year, and we know from the last election campaign that the strong population growth—11 per cent over the past five years or 5,000 people a year, we kept hearing—justifies the spend on the tram. But at the same time was Minister Gentleman paying attention to it? Our population continues to grow and grow, and the minister let our Ambulance Service be short staffed for over 40 per cent of the time.
So I am also calling on the minister to advise the Assembly by the last sitting in April of the exact dates when the Ambulance Service was below minimum crewing and whether it was a day or a night shift. The public deserves to know this information. They deserve to know why the government left them vulnerable—because they could not be bothered undertaking proper workforce management or they just did not think