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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1995 Week 9 Hansard (23 November) . . Page.. 2416 ..

MR OSBORNE (continuing):

I think the Booz Allen report proposed to cut about 90 nurses from Woden Valley Hospital. For the life of me, after all the meetings I have had, I still cannot see how patient care is going to be improved by taking away nurses; so I do not know. I am a front rower, though. Many of our nurses, Mr Speaker, I agree, could be doing more of that type of work if they were not tied up in administration. I would hope, given that my amendment will not get through today - - -

Mr Moore: Will your football game improve if you take away players?

MR OSBORNE: There is more money for the players if you divide it among 10 rather than 13. Mr Speaker, I agree that there are too many nurses tied up, and I hope that the Government does work with the unions, no matter how hard it is. It would be like a footballer working with a referee, but I am sure you will work it out.

Still on health, Mr Speaker, there are a couple of little issues that I suppose I am putting the Government on notice about.

Mr Moore: You can speak to those the second time around.

MR OSBORNE: Okay. Initially, I supported removing the salaried doctors from health centres, but only if they were replaced by doctors who would bulk-bill.

MR SPEAKER: You are now using your second 10 minutes, Mr Osborne.

MR OSBORNE (7.55): Thank you, Mr Speaker. To date I do not think the doctors have been found.

Mr Connolly: It is a bit like the ACTEW pricing tribunal.

MR OSBORNE: Yes, it is funny about that. Now this Government is proposing to sell two health centre buildings and to centralise several services like lactation assistance, the very important physiotherapy, and incontinence advice and treatment. That is a good one for Michael. Shifting those services into town centres will make them much more difficult for young families and older people to get to, and selling the centres will certainly lead to higher rents and very likely their closing down as any kind of health facility. Those are two issues, Mr Speaker, that I will give a lot of thought to over the next few weeks. If the Government does not come up with an adequate number of doctors to cover the salaried doctors they have replaced, perhaps we might have to put them back. As for the health centres, at this stage I am opposed to the sale of those, but that is something that Mrs Carnell can continue to try to convince me about.

As I said, Mr Speaker, my main point in standing up to speak on the health budget is to restate my support for QEII and the facilities they provide. Basically, more than anything, I am standing up here on behalf of the nurses to let them know that there is someone in this place who is very sympathetic to them. I am sure that some people on that side of the fence will support me. Finally, Mr Speaker, as we have discovered today, this is Mrs Carnell's health budget. Do not complain in 21/2 years' time if it is not fixed up.

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