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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2018 Week 09 Hansard (Wednesday, 22 August 2018) . . Page.. 3482 ..


answer question No 662. This question on notice was a very direct question about ambulance shifts, the minimum crewing level and the hours of overtime that were worked by the paramedics.

The question was placed on the notice paper on 22 September 2017. By 17 October, five days before the 30-day deadline for answers, the department provided the minister with the answer, including all the required data. All the required data was provided on 17 October for the question that was lodged on 22 September.

The data showed that in 2016-17 the ACT Ambulance Service was crewed below the minimum crewing level for 303 out of a total of 730 shifts. This means that for 41.5 per cent of all ambulance shifts there were not enough ambulances on our roads. This is a serious shortfall in our ambulance service and has a huge impact on the paramedics, the culture of the place and of course on the community at large.

Three days after receiving the answer, the minister’s office requested context around the data. But the minister’s office did not simply seek a better explanation from ESA, the minister’s office directed the ESA how this so-called context should be framed. The minister’s office said:

Could you please request ESA add an additional paragraph under the table in part 2) to give context around the numbers—ie that while we may have fewer ambulances rostered than the numbers set out in our internal policy, this does not result in a lower standard of care etc as measured by other KPIs.

The minister’s office was not just requesting context, they were requesting that their spin be placed on advice that was provided by the directorate. The minister was seeking to downplay his own failure to meet his own government’s policy. Instead of releasing the data, the minister chose to use the public service as spin doctors to make the figures look better.

As time went on, well past the 30-day deadline for answers, the minister’s office continued the back-and-forth with the directorate. It took a total of eight revisions of the question and 130 days before the minister actually signed off on the data that he was provided with months earlier.

What changed? Only about five sentences. Despite the fact that the department did all the good work, despite the fact that they got all the data together, despite the fact that they met the time line, it took another 100 days for the minister to actually sign off on it.

It highlights the hypocrisy of the minister when he refuses to answer other opposition questions by citing the considerable amount of time that would be required to answer them. Our job as an opposition is to ask questions. That is why we have a question on notice framework. That is why we have questions without notice. It is so that we can do the bidding of our community in this place to ensure that the best possible outcomes are achieved by the government. When you ask a reasonable question about the welfare of staff and the welfare of the community at large and they refuse to


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