Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1995 Week 9 Hansard (23 November) . . Page.. 2413 ..
MR MOORE (7.42): Mr Speaker, Mr Connolly, in responding, has said that I presented a simplistic view. What Mr Connolly has done is present the standard bureaucratic view that he was fed, and swallowed, when he was a Minister. That same bureaucratic view no doubt will be presented, or probably has been presented, to Mrs Carnell as Minister for Health. In fact, Mr Connolly, I shall offer to you a full analysis of those figures that has been provided for me by some people who wish to remain nameless. They are very deeply involved in this area. They take your analysis of it and point out the problems that such a simplistic analysis does reveal in terms of comparative expenditures on mental health. We can continue playing a game and say where the figures are wrong and where the figures are right, but I think we should focus more on the area in which we are in agreement, and that is that mental health is underfunded.
From my perspective this evening, I chose to use this situation very gently. I took a great deal of time and care, and I reiterated a number of times that I lay no blame at all on the people involved, whether it is the police officers or the mental health crisis team. I took a great deal of care to reiterate that, but I still thought it appropriate to raise questions that go to the heart of the issue that we are talking about, and that is funding for mental health. I believe that Mr Connolly asked a question or two in this house to elicit information. This is something that we all feel uncomfortable about; nevertheless, it is appropriate for us to deal with the issue, provided we deal with it in the most effective possible way, as I believe has happened in this house with the exception of a small flare-up this afternoon which was resolved.
Mr Connolly did raise an issue that I think warrants a reply from Mrs Carnell, and that is the chair of psychiatry at the Woden Valley Hospital and the new Clinical School. My understanding is that the offer of that chair had at last count been rejected. I would like Mrs Carnell to tell us whether that is or is not the case, and what action she is proposing to take to ensure that we have that chair of psychiatry filled as soon as possible. I agree with Mr Connolly that this is one of the urgent issues that we have to deal with and that I think will help set the tone for dealing with mental health and give us a proper understanding of how we can improve mental health services throughout the ACT. I emphasise that that is what we are all interested in. Let us see whether we can get a decent reply through this budget process.
MR OSBORNE (7.45): I have been sitting here listening to this debate about that sad and unfortunate incident the other night. I find it a little disappointing, after hearing Mr Moore claim that he blames no-one but that the deceased fellow was treated worse than a kidnapper. As for whether or not that is casting aspersions, I am not an expert. Given that we were not there, my understanding is that the coroner is to look at the incident. I think we all agree in this Assembly that the loss of life as a result of what happened the other night was terribly sad and terribly unfortunate. However, I think it important that we not forget that the police involved there were only doing their job. Having been in situations such as these officers were faced with, whether they adopted the wrong procedure or not, I know that it is very scary.