Page 4100 - Week 13 - Wednesday, 24 November 1993

Next page . . . . Previous page . . . . Contents . . . . Debates(HTML) . . . . PDF . . . .

Discussion of Matter of Public Importance

MR DEPUTY SPEAKER: Madam Speaker has received a letter from Mrs Carnell proposing that a matter of public importance be submitted to the Assembly for discussion, namely:

The need for the Follett Government to overcome the crisis in public health in the ACT.

MRS CARNELL (Leader of the Opposition) (4.04): Mr Deputy Speaker, before I start this speech I want to put right something that Mr Berry said before about activity reports. The first activity report was put together in June 1991 on the decision of the Resources and Service Development Committee of the Board of Health which I chaired. The decision was made before Mr Berry took over the ministry. I want to right the record there. It is important that that is put right.

On 19 August this year the Minister said on ABC radio, "We are on the way to a better health system". We have heard him say in this place so often that Health is getting better, that everything is rosy in Health.

Mr Berry: Under Labor.

MRS CARNELL: That everything is rosy in Health under Labor.

Mr Berry: Getting better; much better.


MRS CARNELL: Mr Deputy Speaker, today our public health system is on the verge of total collapse. Wherever you look in Health, Mr Deputy Speaker, there is a crisis situation. The two professions most critical to health care in our hospitals - specialist doctors and nurses - are locked in disputes with the Government. The morale of Health staff is at an all time low. Waiting lists for elective surgery are growing by 100 people every month. That is three people a day. That is an amazing situation. Hospital occupancy rates have been running at near critical levels. You cannot run a hospital at 100 per cent occupancy. We have the fewest public hospital beds per capita in Australia. That number is fewer than anywhere else, and it is a long way fewer than anywhere else. In fact, the Macklin report suggested that by the end of this century Australia should look at having 3.3 public hospital beds per thousand. That is right down the track, the year 2000, when lots will have happened in terms of medical technology. The ACT, at best, and I stress "at best", currently has 2.7. Actually it is probably closer to 2.5, but I am being very charitable today.

Hospital operating costs, regardless of what Mr Berry said, are far, far higher than the national average. The recent KPMG report suggested 31.44 per cent higher. Mr Berry's own budget of the year before last suggested that they were 30 per cent higher, so I am quite happy to take either figure from either source. Health budgets blow out every year. You would have to believe that budgets in the ACT are a bit like well-worn tyres - they just blow out and continue to blow out. Of course, under Mr Berry, budgets never blow out; we just overspend. And we still do not have a hospice, even though it was approved in 1988. It was approved again in 1989. The story goes on. We could go ahead with the hospice tomorrow if Mr Berry was not bloody-minded about the site.

Next page . . . . Previous page . . . . Contents . . . . Debates(HTML) . . . . PDF . . . .