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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2021 Week 10 Hansard (Thursday, 7 October 2021) . . Page.. 2900 ..


After 20 years of Labor-Greens government, there is no-one left to blame. Why do I have a feeling that the Labor-Greens party will be promising this building at the Canberra Hospital at the 2024 election? Ms Gallagher knew how much the rebuild of the hospital was going to be. She put aside $41 million for the planning in the out years—$375 million to get the rebuild going. But the trams seemed more important.

Yet, with this background, the Minister for Health went on ABC news on 31 January this year and said, “Our target and the national target is 70 per cent.” We are nowhere near that at this time. Yesterday it was revealed that in the ED department we are at 29 per cent on category 3 and 43 per cent on category 4. What did the minister say on 31 January—70 per cent. She said, “We want to get to that target within nine months.” Well nine months is now, minister. There is no-one else to blame.

What does ministerial accountability actually mean in the ACT? It is hard to know, really. The High Court says it is the individual responsibility of ministers to parliament for the administration of their departments and the collective responsibility of cabinet for the whole conduct of the administration. I need to know whether it is the health minister who is responsible or whether it is the whole cabinet. Health is one of the few portfolios that the Chief Minister has not dabbled in much in his time here, and we know that when things need to happen in the ACT—good or bad—they end up in the Chief Minister’s mega-directorate. Maybe it is too hard for even him to fix?

The minister said she would have the waiting times, which were nowhere near 70 per cent, fixed in nine months. Nine months is now, but it has not happened. This is not an arbitrary measure. This is not on my recommendation; it is the minister’s own yardstick. The minister has failed staff worrying about their PPE being properly protectively fitted and has failed those suffering bullying and harassment in our facility, now an entrenched issue years and years after we have actually had a report that was meant to change things.

The minister has failed junior doctors who are bullied and sometimes underpaid and ED staff who are run off their feet and absolutely depleted by the end of each and every shift. But she says, “I’m working on it.” Fix the system. Make the proper investment. Thank staff by actually providing them with what they need, not loading them higher and higher with a bigger backpack of hard work. So far this minister has failed her own yardstick to fix ED within nine months. Turn it around, minister. Turn it around for the people of this city. Turn it around. (Time expired.)

MS STEPHEN-SMITH (Kurrajong—Minister for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs, Minister for Families and Community Services and Minister for Health) (3.23), by leave: I move:

1. Omit paragraphs (1)(a) to (l), substitute:

“(a) ACT public health services are an integral part of the Canberra community providing essential services, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic;

(b) more than 500 additional staff have temporarily joined the frontline health workforce and administrative teams in response to the recent


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