Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2018 Week 13 Hansard (Wednesday, 28 November 2018) . . Page.. 4937 ..
It is a constant complaint that we fail to get proper commonwealth funding for services provided in the hospital, we do not bill Medicare properly and we do not bill the pharmaceutical benefits system properly because we are not signed up to the agreements. Instead of paying out of ACT taxpayer money in excess of $180 every time someone turns up to the nurse-led walk-in centre, we would be trying to retrieve some of that money from the commonwealth, like every other state does.
It is easy for this government to say, “We provide this free service.” It is difficult to tell the truth. If Joe Public walks up to a nurse-led walk-in centre and someone says to them, “Actually, it is not free; it costs the ACT taxpayer $188,” he is going to say, “Well, I am doing all right, thank you very much, because I am not paying that out of my pocket. I do not see that coming out of my pocket.” But it comes out of your rates, it comes out of the duties that this government levies, it comes out of the GST that we pay and is brought back to us, it comes out of the parking fines, and it comes out of the parking fees. ACT taxpayers pay that $188 from all of these things.
The minister put out a press release yesterday extolling the virtues of the health system and how great she has been, and she spoke about it today. I will just touch on half-a-dozen issues that she raised to say how she has been doing a great job.
To say that achieving accreditation is an achievement is really pretty laughable. It is the thing that makes the hospital function, that allows the hospital to function. It is business as usual. If we did not have accreditation, we would have to close the hospital. The fact that we were under pressure for three or four months to achieve accreditation was a real problem. They are sitting there saying “Geez, we achieved accreditation,” with a sigh of relief. They did not have a plan B; they did not know what would happen. They had to achieve accreditation, Madam Speaker, or we would be in a very fine pickle now and this minister would be well and truly gone.
The minister claims that she has announced an expansion of Clare Holland House. It is interesting to note that there is not one dollar of ACT money in that expansion. The minister talked about progress in the delivery of the territory-wide health services planning document, but she failed to say that she abandoned the policy that she talked up for one year or more in relation to virtual centres of medical excellence. She talked about meningococcal vaccination but did not mention that they had not delivered on their commitment to deliver free meningococcal B vaccination for infants, as was promised at the election.
She talked about the bulk-billing clinics. I applaud the bulk-billing grants. What I do not applaud is the fact that the grant application closed in April and it took six months, until October, to decide how to spend some of the money—not all of the money—they had allocated for this. I know that one of the bidders subsequently told me that they had hoped that they would be able to open their clinic in June in the Molonglo Valley in advance of the flu season, and they were not able to do so because of the unconscionable delays in this very small grants program.
The minister talks about the establishment of the independent review into workplace culture. Really, Madam Speaker, it is risible that the minister would consider this an achievement. She resisted. She was dragged, kicking and screaming, to a poor