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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2021 Week 04 Hansard (Tuesday, 20 April 2021) . . Page.. 831 ..

Whilst this budget fails to address the years of complacency and failure from the government, there are still some initiatives that the Canberra Liberals wholeheartedly support. The budget allocates $14 million in new funding for the Police, Ambulance and Clinical Early Response Program. The PACER program brings together an expert team of frontline workers to help Canberrans in their time of most need for mental health support. Paramedics from ACT Ambulance Service, officers from ACT Policing and mental health clinicians from Canberra Health Services all work together to provide a more comprehensive response for people experiencing mental health emergencies.

Since it started in late 2019, over 80 per cent of people who have been assisted by the PACER team have been found suitable to be left at home and referred to other mental health services for support. Not only does this provide the patient with better mental health support but it also helps reduce the number of people needing to present to the emergency departments with complex mental health conditions. There is ample evidence that the program works and that Canberrans who need this type of mental health support benefit enormously from it. The Canberra Liberals welcome the funding for the expansion of this program.

I also note that this budget commits $20 million for the vaccine rollout. As we have seen over the past few weeks, there is no silver bullet to tackling COVID. Canberrans, and all Australians are pinning a lot of hope on the rollout of the vaccine, and it is important that the ACT government does its bit, as it has been, in achieving this. I support so far the commitment this government has made to be as good as we can, given the national and international situation on vaccine rollout, and I think many Canberrans feel the same way.

Despite the bumps in the road, I am sure we will get to a position where life can return to relative normality in the months and years to come. I thank the minister and her officials for their work in this space and particularly those working on the frontline in the testing locations and the vaccine clinics, and all the GPs and their staff who are now involved. From the heart, I say thank you for the work you do every single day.

In conclusion, the budget fails to deliver where it matters the most in our health system. Twenty years of Labor and the Greens have left our health system lacking in the new state-of-the-art infrastructure it so critically needs. Over a decade ago the government warned of an incoming health tsunami and today we are living it. (Second speaking period taken.) The government failed to act when they should have. As a result, we have some of the longest waiting times for emergency department treatment and elective surgery in the country.

Hospital staff are affected by constantly increasing workloads and are suffering from a toxic workplace culture. A long-promised infrastructure improvement at the Canberra Hospital continues to suffer delay. This budget does not go anywhere close to addressing the government’s failures in health.

MS DAVIDSON (Murrumbidgee—Assistant Minister for Seniors, Veterans, Families and Community Services, Minister for Disability, Minister for Justice Health and

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