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MR HUMPHRIES: I am sorry, Mr Speaker; but Mr Berry's question still is not very clear. He says that I said that I was unaware of the annotated document. I was obviously aware of the document, because I tabled it. I indicated that I had not at any stage seen the annotated version of it. I think I made it clear that I had not seen the annotated document at all; but I indicated to the house that I understood - I had been led to believe - that it had been annotated by the Chief Minister. I think I indicated to the house that one would expect that a document in the nature of a minute or brief that went to a Minister in the Government would be annotated. That is the way we handle those documents, as a rule. You annotate them in some way and you send them back. So, I did not indicate that I had ever seen the annotated document. Indeed, I did not see the annotated document before yesterday afternoon, when Ms Follett tabled it here in the house. That was the first I had seen of that document in the annotated form.
MR BERRY: As a supplementary question: Have you become aware that the Chief Minister - Chief Minister Carnell - was aware of, or had sighted, the annotated document?
MR HUMPHRIES: No, I have not, Mr Speaker.
Health Services - Consultancy
MR HIRD: Mr Speaker, I direct a question to a very good Chief Minister - probably the best we have ever had.
MR SPEAKER: Ask your question, Mr Hird.
MR HIRD: Mr Speaker, I address a question to the Chief Minister in her capacity as Minister for Health and Community Care. I refer to the Government's announcement this week that a team of consultants has begun working with the Health Department to improve the efficiency of ACT Health, including Woden Valley Hospital. Can the Minister inform the Assembly about some of the problems that have led the ACT Government to undertake this important reform step - in particular, about the crisis in waiting lists for elective surgery?
MRS CARNELL: Thank you very much, Mr Hird. This Assembly, and particularly the members opposite, should be aware of just how serious the problems with waiting lists are and the reason why this Government has taken such definite steps to do something about them. Under the previous Government, waiting lists were defined into three categories, and appropriately so - category one for the most urgent; category 2; and then category 3 for the least urgent. There are currently some 4,600 people waiting for elective surgery in Canberra's public hospitals. Unfortunately, they have been waiting for far too long. So, not only are there too many, but also they have been waiting for too long. Mr Connolly was always very keen to point out that it really did not matter how many people had been waiting; what really mattered was how long they had actually been on the waiting list. So, for Mr Connolly's benefit, I will use the very same benchmarks that he always wanted to use in this Assembly, to show just how dramatic these problems are.