Page 1539 - Week 06 - Tuesday, 17 May 1994

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  Tuesday, 17 May 1994


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


Hospital Waiting Lists

MRS CARNELL: Madam Speaker, my question is directed to the Minister for Health. The last quarterly health activity report blames the 20 per cent increase in elective surgery waiting lists and the dramatic increase in the number of people waiting for longer than six months on a reduction in elective surgery in the March quarter. Minister, this is a very straightforward question. Why was elective surgery reduced in the March quarter in comparison with the same quarter of the previous year, given that the VMOs dispute had already ended in the previous quarter?

MR CONNOLLY: Madam Speaker, the carping and whingeing from the Liberal Party just does not end. I was intrigued by Mrs Carnell's rhetoric: "Let us have a different form of government for the ACT. Let us have constitutional reform. Let us have a collegiate approach to dealing with problems that face the ACT community". What an interesting and innovative approach to government, Madam Speaker! But, when it comes to the crunch, they are just a bunch of whingers and carpers and criticisers. Mrs Carnell is just another opposition leader on the make, no different from opposition politicians anywhere in Australia. All of her fancy rhetoric about collegiate government and different approaches is so much stuff and nonsense.

Madam Speaker, one of the major factors in the problem with our waiting list is the fact that for about eight weeks we did not have surgery performed because we had a strike.

Mrs Carnell: That was the previous quarter.

MR CONNOLLY: Yes, it was in the previous quarter, but in the quarter following it was not possible to catch up the eight weeks of strike by doctors. That was simply not possible. So it will be some months before these figures work their way out of the system. As a result of that, we have a problem with our waiting list. The Government has been quite open, collegiate and consultative about that - to use Mrs Carnell's rhetoric - and we are addressing our problems.

We have a longstanding problem with financial control of the health system. You were unable to make any constructive suggestion about how to deal with that problem when you were on the Board of Health. When Mr Humphries was Health Minister in a Liberal Government, he did not have a clue about what level he was overspending at. That is not a personal criticism of Mr Humphries. The systems simply

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