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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2021 Week 12 Hansard (Tuesday, 23 November 2021) . . Page.. 3464 ..

government response to the standing committee reports on the Appropriation Bill 2021-2022 and the Appropriation (Office of the Legislative Assembly) Bill 2021-2022.

MRS JONES (Murrumbidgee) (10.30): We are now starting the appropriation bill debate for 2021-22. In the area of health, the bill would appropriate $973 million to the ACT local hospital network, which would then be distributed to the various health service providers in the ACT, including Canberra Health Services—$351 million to the ACT Health Directorate, and $67 million in capital to Canberra Health Services.

I would like to start by thanking the ACT government officials who made themselves available during the hearings to assist the committee to examine the estimates of expenditure for the forthcoming year. Being able to examine the proposed expenditure of the government is a central part of what we do here, and a cornerstone of our system of government.

As I have done in previous estimates and annual reports hearings, this year I sought the attendance of Calvary hospital at estimates. Calvary is an integral part of our public health system, and its attendance is of critical importance. Unlike prior years, this year I wrote formally to the committee, seeking Calvary’s appearance. At the time of the hearings, however, I had not received an official response.

The chair of the committee, Mr Davis, did, however, during the hearing provide me with an update on the committee’s handling of the issue, indicating that it had written to both the health minister and the mental health minister, seeking a response. I await the outcome of the committee’s thinking on my request, but I note that it did not result in Calvary attending the most recent estimates.

This is not a minor issue, as we discovered that Calvary will be receiving $261 million in recurrent funding and $16 million in capital funding via this appropriation bill. This is a matter of principle for this Assembly—that we have all of the powers of a parliament and that we can and do use them—and I hope that the committee, in time, provides a well-considered response to my request.

The hearings, like 2020 and 2021 generally, were heavily influenced by COVID-19. I was pleased to hear from Dr Coatsworth that treatments for people who are COVID-19 positive have advanced hugely over the course of this pandemic. There is, as always, a need to avoid complacency, as we are all susceptible to this disease, which can strike down anybody, but it is heartening that we are getting better at treating COVID-19.

My colleague Mr Milligan inquired about the use of devices known as “medihoods” around beds in the hospital system. These, too, appear to have been of great assistance in the treatment of COVID-19 in the ACT. Congratulations to all of the staff associated with the rollout of those devices. This shows that we can get quite a bit done when there is a great desire to get outcomes in our health system. It puts to an end the idea that we cannot achieve well in our health system, and it gives me great hope that the ACT health system can and will perform better in the years ahead.

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