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MRS CARNELL: I assume that the shadow Minister for Health is asking a question about the consultancy that was announced yesterday. That consultancy has started. It will work with ACT Health, with management, to identify the areas where we can become more efficient and where we can improve the quality of care in ACT hospitals and in our health service generally. We have an enormous problem in Health. If the previous Minister does not know that, he did not learn a lot in the time he was there. He would be aware that in this coming year, the next financial year, we have been left a legacy of $8.6m worth of salaries that were not budgeted for and have no efficiency offsets, $1.5m for the Clinical School that was not budgeted for, and $3m in Comcare premiums that were not budgeted for. Just in those areas alone there is $13.1m worth of unbudgeted expenditure that is simply not discretionary for this Government. Before we even start there is a $13.1m overrun.

In addition to that, we have waiting lists of 4,600. That is something that the previous Health Minister certainly should know about. We have had a reduction of over 100 public hospital beds since the Labor Party took over. We have had an increase in the people waiting for longer than six months for elective surgery, from some 32 per cent when the Labor Party took over - an unacceptably high figure - to over 50 per cent now. We have over 50 per cent of people waiting for longer than six months for essential elective surgery. We have the second longest clearance time from our waiting lists in Australia. We are second to the Northern Territory.

Mr Berry: Mr Speaker, I raise a point of order. I heard the question. This does not sound like the answer. The question I heard was: How many workers will have to lose their jobs for Mrs Carnell to remain as Health Minister?

MR SPEAKER: Mr Berry, difficult as I found it to hear the answer being provided, over the interjections from both sides of the house, you are as well aware as I am - you have had a great deal of experience in this - that the Minister can answer the question as she sees fit.

MRS CARNELL: Last year Mr Connolly put $14m into the health budget.

Ms Follett: Mr Speaker, on a further point of order: I take it that you are not directing that the Minister does not have to remain relevant?

MR SPEAKER: No, I am not.

Ms Follett: I do refer Mrs Carnell to the question that has been asked, which has regard to the number of jobs she has said she will cut from the health system.

MR SPEAKER: I have no doubt that Mrs Carnell is as aware of the question as I am.

MRS CARNELL: If the Opposition does not believe that health budgets have something to do with employment in our system, they have a much bigger problem than they ever thought they had. We have inherited a budget that simply does not work and waiting lists that are far too long.

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