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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2018 Week 07 Hansard (Wednesday, 1 August 2018) . . Page.. 2502 ..


the duties of the Minister for Health and Wellbeing by moving an amendment to this motion. I acknowledge that both ministers in the health portfolio have worked very hard in recent months to address concerns. The very comprehensive amendment that Minister Rattenbury has moved today, I believe, is worthy of the Assembly’s support, and better reflects the current status and focus of the government in relation to health service delivery and the work that is being undertaken to strengthen both the directorate’s work culture and service delivery.

I recognise that it is well within the right of any member of this place to seek to establish boards of inquiry into issues. It is not the first and nor will it be the last time that the Assembly will consider such calls. It is worth advising members, and indeed putting on the public record, that there are significant costs associated with boards of inquiry. They are the territory equivalent of royal commissions. It would be remiss of me as Treasurer not to advise the Assembly of the costs associated with such processes, and they are considerable: in the tens of millions of dollars.

With respect to recent royal commissions in this country, I can refer to two. The trade union royal commission cost around $50 million. We will all reflect on the highly partisan and political nature of that exercise and what a waste of taxpayers’ money that was. With the current banking royal commission, the commonwealth government have estimated a cost at this point of at least $65 million. There have been reports in the Financial Review that the total cost will approach $1 billion when you take into account all of the legal costs associated with the money that the banks will spend in relation to their own lawyers and legal defence through such a process.

This is simply to put on the public record that these are not cheap exercises. These are very expensive. In the context of the territory budget, we would have to give, as Assembly members, very serious consideration to whether the next $50 million that we would invest in our health system would in fact be better spent on services, and health services for Canberrans. That is a lot of elective surgeries. That is a lot of additional support for our hospitals and health system, and that is clearly a choice that is before us. I would always err on the side of wanting resources of that magnitude to go to better service delivery, to provide the best possible health system for Canberrans.

I respect that others will take a different view, but I will be clear, speaking as Treasurer, that the next $50 million that I would invest in the ACT Health system would be invested in services, elective surgeries, reducing waiting times at accident and emergency, more beds in our hospitals: more services for our community. I think that is the priority over the coming years.

It is also important to note that a board of inquiry would require significant diversion of existing resources within the health system, in addition to the significant fiscal cost, at a point, frankly, where they are much better to focus on the delivery of health services, the rollout of new services like the walk-in-centres, improvements to our emergency departments and more elective surgeries.

There is a very strong reporting framework in place within the ACT Health system for complaints, for bullying and harassment issues, to be dealt with. The minister has outlined some of those avenues of complaint that range from the Ombudsman to the


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