Page 1333 - Week 05 - Tuesday, 10 May 1994

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  Tuesday, 10 May 1994


MADAM SPEAKER (Ms McRae) took the chair at 2.30 pm and read the prayer.


Private Hospitals - Bed Numbers

MRS CARNELL: Madam Speaker, my question without notice is directed to the Minister for Health, Mr Connolly. In November 1990, in additional comments to the Estimates Committee report, Mr Connolly criticised the Alliance Government for its plans to increase the number of private hospital beds in the ACT by up to 10 per cent. Mr Connolly said:

There was no evidence to support the assertion that the quality of services in the public sector would be unaffected by the massive swing to private hospital beds.

Since Mr Connolly took over as Health Minister, in his own words he has increased the number of private hospital beds by 20 per cent, double the increase planned back in 1990. Does the Minister concede that the Labor Government has abandoned its old health policy championed by Mr Berry, and finally realised that the Liberal Party's health policy of a balance between the private and public sectors is the only way to improve our hospital system, or has there been some other late conversion on the road to Damascus?

MR CONNOLLY: I think that back in 1990 Mrs Carnell was on the Board of Health, so she was part of the problem. Now she is Leader of the Opposition and still part of the problem. Madam Speaker, I seem to recall that in 1990 the Opposition were running the ideological line that all problems would be solved if only we had more private beds; indeed they were urging that we needed more private hospitals. I think they were quite attracted to the for-profit model of private hospitals.

One thing that I think needs to be stressed in this debate is that, of course, both Calvary Private and John James operate on a not-for-profit community based model. That is very different to some of the hospitals in New South Wales, where the doctors who drive what happens in the hospital often are the shareholders and have a profit interest in the sense that if the hospital makes a profit it is paid in a dividend to those doctors. I, as do all members of this Government, have a real problem with that model of providing medical services.

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