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MR HUMPHRIES (Attorney-General) (4.11): May I, first of all, commend the Opposition on their stunning tactical sense in bringing on an MPI on a day like today. There is clearly a huge amount of public interest in this matter of public importance. This is the same tired old attack we have already seen on the part of this Opposition, desperately resisting the reality that I think anybody with half a brain who observes our health system realises we cannot long stave off. Anybody observing our system, particularly any of the former Health Ministers sitting around this place, knows in their heart of hearts that we as a community cannot afford to ignore the lessons this Booz Allen and Hamilton report entails for this community. The difference between us and our predecessors is that we are prepared to grasp the nettle of those important issues and attempt to deal with them.
The attack on this report has been so immensely shallow on the part of Mr Connolly that it is almost not worth getting up to rebut it.
Mr De Domenico: And when they could not do it properly, they had them making atom bombs or something.
MR HUMPHRIES: That is another little gem to come back to later. Here is the logic Mr Connolly used: Booz Allen and Hamilton refer to 56 tradespeople in the Woden Valley Hospital as being unnecessary - at least, the total number being unnecessary; that number includes three boiler attendants; boiler attendants are necessary, therefore Booz Allen and Hamilton's $1m study is wrong; throw it out the window. When you are in a position like that of the Opposition, with your own health strategy in tatters after 3½ years of disgraceful performance in health, I suppose that it is not too bad to come up with logic like that. Let us face it; there is no-one here to hear you and laugh about it, so I suppose that we all make that kind of comment.
What the Opposition is doing is trying to dress up problems with the messenger as problems with the message. There is a fundamental issue. Let us forget about how this report was put together or what arms-dealing kinds of associates put it together, or what kinds of typographical errors there are in this report. Let us put all those things to one side for one instant and ask ourselves the fundamental question: Are they right in saying that we have a serious problem that we have to address? If they are right, as those opposite acknowledge by their comments, what are we going to do about it? How do we get to deal with this problem? We have put our cards on the table. We have called on one of the most professional, highly esteemed companies in the world in this area to give us advice about how to deal with this problem in our health system. We have put it on the table. We are going to pursue the avenues created in this, with appropriate consultation and appropriate sorting out of the issues that result from these decisions; but we will pursue it.
Those opposite had a report that also pointed to a $30m overspend in our health system. They have not told the community how they were going to deal with it. Before they go any further in this debate, they owe it to the community to explain how they were going to do it.
Mr Connolly: We did. Last year’s health budget was an implementation of the Andersen report.