Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1995 Week 9 Hansard (23 November) . . Page.. 2411 ..
MR BERRY (continuing):
and that was developed under Labor. What we have to do is ensure that the same emphasis is maintained under the Liberal Government opposite. It is their budget that is under the microscope this evening, and it is their budget that is going to have to stand the challenges of the future. On the face of it, it is not going to make it.
MR CONNOLLY (7.36): Mr Speaker, I would like to follow up Mr Berry's remarks in this debate and, in a sense, try to set some of Mr Moore's statements in context. I want to defend our record in government, and also to some extent Mrs Carnell's, which is an unusual position for me, and to suggest to Mrs Carnell that she might be able to provide some up-to-date data.
Mr Moore on many occasions has criticised mental health services in the ACT by pointing to the Grants Commission and saying, "We underspend per capita on mental health", and that is true overall. But it is also true, and Mr Moore knows this because it has been pointed out to him on a number of occasions and he has seen the documents, that the national mental health strategy went behind those Grants Commission figures. They still say that per capita we underspend on mental health globally. They break it down to community mental health and institutional care. The large stand-alone psychiatric institutions, the nineteenth century asylums, for too long were the basis of mental health services around Australia, but not here, thank goodness, because we never had one.
When you look at community mental health expenditure - the figures were last made available in 1994 - the ACT is well in front. Mr Moore shakes his head, but that is true. I would suggest to Mrs Carnell that she enlighten Mr Moore by getting her department to get the updates on those figures. Much as we will rail against the Carnell Government, I do not think that we have gone backwards in that area in the last 12 months. In fact, I suspect, not so much because the ACT is spending any more in this budget but because a number of States are actively cutting back in this area, that we will continue to be well in front in the area of community mental health.
This struck both Mr Berry and me because we happened to be in Perth in April or March of last year at a combined Health and Community Services Ministers meeting when we held the respective portfolios. That was the day that the national mental health strategy was published. The West Australian newspaper had a huge headline which said, "ACT leads Australia in Community Mental Health - WA comes bottom". We both pointed out that such a headline would be most unlikely to be seen in the Canberra Times, even though both newspapers were referring to the same data.
Ms Follett: It was not, was it?
MR CONNOLLY: As Ms Follett points out, the headline was not seen in the ACT. To criticise the ACT on the basis on which you have criticised it is a cheap way to make a point, but it is an unfair way to make a point. When you then relate it to the shooting incident, again I think you are playing a bit of politics. In some of those incidents in Victoria in particular, where there have been - - -