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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2018 Week 02 Hansard (Thursday, 22 February 2018) . . Page.. 638 ..

One of the reasons that we know that the ACT government’s policies, funding and programs are having a positive impact on our community is a very clear indication that our community is a healthy one—indeed one of the healthiest in the country. When Canberrans do get sick, they have access to a world-class health system to help them get better.

As I stated last week, we have the highest life expectancy in the country and the lowest smoking rates. Canberra children have some of the lowest rates of obesity in the world—something that I am particularly proud of, because most other jurisdictions are heading in the opposite direction. This is something that is a high priority for me, not only in my health portfolio but also in my transport portfolio.

We have very high rates—indeed one of the highest rates—of participation by women in BreastScreen Australia. We have made significant gains over the last seven or eight years, particularly in younger Canberra women, and it is great to see that these prevention messages are cutting through. We lead the nation in immunisation coverage. On that note, I am very pleased to see the rollout of the meningococcal W vaccination for free for all year 10 students in Canberra, and the catch-up program for all 16 to 19-year-olds in the ACT as well.

We had the lowest incidence of all cancers except cervical cancer compared to national figures in 2014. We have a high rate of nurses, midwives and medical practitioners. The number of hospital beds in the ACT between 2011 and 2012 and 2015 and 2016 increased by 17.8 per cent—indeed, the opposite of what Mrs Dunne has just reported. There has been a nearly 18 per cent increase in the number of hospital beds, and the rate of available beds in 2015-16 was higher than that observed nationally.

We will continue to invest in our health system. We will continue to promote healthy lifestyles and expand existing health services and prevention programs, and build new health infrastructure, to make sure that Canberrans stay healthy and well. Since 2014-15 the government has committed $7 million to the healthy weight initiative and another $4 million in this year’s budget for more prevention initiatives. In last year’s budget we delivered $443 million in new investments, building on the $1.6 billion the ACT government already invests in the health care and wellbeing of Canberrans each year.

I note that the opposition has been fond of repeating the Canberra Times headlines that were present on the day that the Report on government services came out—that we have tripled our spending in health. We are proud of that. We are proud that this Labor government continues to invest in our health system.

Indeed one of those investments, the new University of Canberra hospital, which a number of us were able to visit this week, opens midway through this year. It is Canberra’s first dedicated rehabilitation hospital, focused on rehabilitation, recovery and research. It is a major milestone for better health care in the ACT and marks the culmination of almost seven years of planning and construction work. It has been designed and purpose-built to support high quality health care with state-of-the-art

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