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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2018 Week 02 Hansard (Thursday, 22 February 2018) . . Page.. 642 ..

105 per cent shows the extent of that problem. It will not be fixed by a rhetorical pivot. Under Minister Rattenbury, acute mental health patients clearly have limited access to treatment.

Minister Rattenbury is hanging his hat on the much promised and long-awaited office for mental health. He assured the Canberra Times that it would be worth the wait. I hope that this is not just another example we see often from this Labor-Greens government of over-promising and underdelivering.

MR STEEL (Murrumbidgee) (4.43): Canberra is one of the healthiest cities in Australia, and when Canberrans do get sick they have access to a world-class health system to help them get well. I think that Canberrans understand that they have access to some of the best quality health care in the country provided by the ACT government. The minister mentioned fantastic maternity services but I also get quite a lot of feedback about our fantastic emergency department, particularly at the Canberra Hospital.

However, as our city grows it is critical that the government continue to invest in and improve our public health system to provide affordable access to quality health care when it is needed. Our Labor government has a comprehensive health plan to invest in the health of Canberrans and to meet the pressures that a health system can understandably experience when there are an additional 7,000 people living in the ACT every year.

That was the major theme of the election. The city is growing and we have in the budget last year delivered on the rollout of the comprehensive health plan that we took to the election, and we will continue to do so in future budgets. This will provide support for more bulk-billing GPs, new walk-in centres in Gungahlin and the Weston Creek region, the new SPIRE centre at the Canberra Hospital, the extension of the Centenary Hospital for Women and Children and investment in a new adolescent mental health unit.

The establishment of the University of Canberra hospital with a specialist centre for rehabilitation, recovery and research, which I was delighted to be able to visit this week, will, beyond the middle of this year, start providing much-needed subacute services to the ACT community.

One of the major policy areas that we are investing in as part of our health plan is preventative health. Today I want to focus my remarks on preventative health, which is a top priority for the ACT government and an area where we need to continue to invest strongly to support our health system.

Canberrans are some of the healthiest people in the country. Last week, when speaking to Ms Cheyne’s motion, I spoke about the Productivity Commission’s recent Report on Government Services. Residents in the ACT are shown in that report to have the highest life expectancies in the country, with a higher life expectancy for males, who live nearly a year longer than the national average—81.3 years against the national average of 80.4 years, and females living 85.2 years, against the national average of 84.6 years of age.

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