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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1995 Week 9 Hansard (23 November) . . Page.. 2408 ..

MR CONNOLLY (continuing):

We would even go so far as to say we would not necessarily be locked into or wedded to the report's recommendation that it be on the campus of one of the two hospitals, because I am aware that there are some ideas being put about that there may be some community facilities that could be refurbished or rebuilt to provide an adequate facility. You must indicate to the community what you will be doing.

I think the study found that something like 15 per cent of Canberra births have some use of QEII, not necessarily as an inpatient. When you consider that it has been operational for over 40 years, there are a lot of people in the Canberra community whose lives have been touched by that facility, and it is under a cloud at the moment. Chief Minister, you must indicate your intentions on that, and you must indicate where the resources will come from. The real fear, as I say, is that you are going to sell the site and try to fob the community off by simply providing services from within the existing maternity and obstetrics unit at Woden Valley Hospital, and that will simply be unacceptable.

MR MOORE (7.25): Mr Speaker, I would like to continue on from Mr Connolly and talk about the importance of issues such as QEII. I want to make sure that the Chief Minister understands that the Assembly as a whole does believe that those things are critical, and that we understand exactly what is happening there so that those services can be appropriately delivered.

There has also been a great deal of concern - and I know that an amendment is foreshadowed by my colleague Mr Osborne - about the protection of nursing hours at Woden Valley, in particular patient contact hours. Mr Osborne and I put out a joint press release on this matter. We considered it particularly important, and no doubt he will speak on it in a short time. It is something that I want to have on the record. I believe we have to be careful, when we are attempting to make productivity gains, that we do ensure appropriate service delivery. This goes back to some of the comments I made during my speech on Division 40, the Chief Minister's Department.

Mr Speaker, I would also like to take some time now to speak about mental health. I would like to focus some of my comments on the tragedy that happened last Friday night. In some ways it was an avoidable tragedy. Even though I recognise that specialist training was lacking, I do not blame the police for doing their jobs to the best of their ability; and, although they were suffering from a lack of resources and expertise, I do not blame the mental health crisis management team, who were also, I believe, doing their best. I do, however, blame this Government and the previous Government in the ACT for continually ignoring a problem that has been brought to their attention time and again. Mental health services are grossly inadequate in resources, expertise and understanding.

I believe that both governments have been negligent. If this man had threatened others in a hostage situation the police and the community would have reacted very differently. He was, in fact, treated with less respect than a kidnapper, or one who threatened others with violence. There were no attempts to talk him down, to negotiate with him, or to find a caring person in his life whom he trusted to calm and reassure him. Why?

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