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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1996 Week 10 Hansard (3 September) . . Page.. 2948 ..

MRS CARNELL: We will not talk about who on the other side of the chamber has private health insurance, will we? Some of these people use public hospital services, leading to additional costs to the ACT Government and, of course, to the community itself. May I respond to the line that Mr Kaine quoted from Mr Berry's media release, because I know just how much Mr Berry hates to be wrong. We all know that he really worries about his facts so much, to make sure that what he wants to say is absolutely true before he waxes lyrical. Mr Berry said:

There is no shortage of private hospital beds in the ACT ...

Unfortunately, yet again we have a fact-free zone from Mr Berry. Unfortunately, he must have checked the wrong page when he checked the facts. The facts are that the ACT has significantly fewer private hospital beds than the Australian average. Australia-wide there are about 1.2 private hospital beds per thousand people. In the ACT we have just 0.8 of a bed for every thousand people, or a shortfall of about 120 beds. We also know that about 20 per cent of admissions come from outside the ACT, so that means that the shortfall is probably much greater than the 120.

I would like to further quote from Mr Berry's media release that was issued in July. He said:

This is a tired old plan which fell apart through lack of commercial interest when it was last tried by the then Liberal Health Minister ...

Again, we have a fact-free zone. How quickly Mr Berry forgets the time when he was Health Minister. Mr Berry, do you not remember that it was not actually a lack of commercial interest but a decision that you made to stop the process started by a Liberal government? It had nothing to do with a lack of interest; it had to do with Mr Berry deciding to stop the process. Do you not remember that, after you denied that there had been any commercial interest, an FOI request was submitted which revealed that in fact there were four organisations that were showing a very keen interest in building a private hospital in the ACT? How quickly some people forget or possibly just misread the facts. In July Mr Berry was saying that there was no commercial interest. The fact is that FOI showed that four companies were interested.

Perhaps the most amusing quote from Mr Berry's media release is this one:

There was no demand for extra private beds then and there is none now.

Mr Berry, if there was no demand, why did the Follett Labor Government increase the number of private hospital beds in the ACT by 20 per cent in 1992? That was a decision that I supported because we always supported good ideas. If there was no demand, why in heaven's name did those opposite actually increase the number of beds by 20 per cent only the year before last?

Mr De Domenico: Who did that?

MRS CARNELL: Those opposite.

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