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I can guarantee that we will end up being able to address the waiting list problem - one that just blew out and blew out under the previous Government - because “the VMOs dispute is causing a blow-out in the waiting list”, to quote everybody on the opposite side.

So, what we have ended up with in seven weeks is a situation where we will now be able to address the core problem in health; that is, a waiting list that is the worst, or amongst the worst, in Australia. The Australian Institute of Health recently found that the clearance time on the waiting list in the ACT was the second worst in Australia, after the Northern Territory. It was more than double that of New South Wales. If members of the previous Government actually believe that that was a good outcome for health, heaven help them! What we have is $2m worth of savings, no stoppages whatsoever, and a cooperative approach to the future of health.

MS McRAE: I have a supplementary question, Mr Speaker. Is the Chief Minister suggesting that, if other people create waiting lists, their wage demands will be taken seriously?

MRS CARNELL: I would be very happy for any group in the ACT to accept a wage package with a saving of $2m.

Visiting Medical Officers - Contracts

MR WHITECROSS: Mr Speaker, my question is to Mrs Carnell in her capacity as Minister for Health. Mrs Carnell, the Andersen report, which you claimed during the election campaign you would implement, found that the ACT overspends nearly $6m on VMO payments. In the light of your failure to deliver these savings, how many public sector jobs will have to go to pay for your deal with the doctors?

MRS CARNELL: As I have just said, the savings we have managed to achieve are double the ones that the previous Government was even hoping to achieve. They are more than the previous Government even looked like achieving in this area. What we have now is a situation where we have $2m in savings in an area that has traditionally been very difficult, as the previous Government found in two years of stoppages and waiting list blow-outs - and the saga went on. Mr Connolly knows that the best he achieved was a waiting list that went from 1,179 to 4,557 and 30 VMOs lodging their resignations.

When we came to power, we had two weeks before our hospital system came to a halt. Orthopaedic surgeons had lodged their resignations, and other specialists had said that they were going to withdraw service. We had two weeks to solve the problem, and we did - with $2m in savings; with a cooperative approach; but, most importantly, with an undertaking from the specialists in our system to work together to clear the waiting list, to overcome a problem with 51 per cent of people waiting for six months or longer for essential surgery. I am not talking about plastic surgery, as Mr Connolly used to bleat about, but things like hip replacements, important surgery in urology and ear, nose and throat areas and general surgery. Those are the sorts of people who were

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