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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1996 Week 11 Hansard (25 September) . . Page.. 3372 ..

MRS CARNELL (continuing):

a cardio-thoracic surgical unit in Canberra for a cost of $1.1m. Oops, $1.1m! Here is the $1.1m and there is the $4m, both from a Labor government. They are the two promises three years apart. Mr Speaker, what happened between 1992 and 1995? Absolutely nothing happened between 1992 and 1995, except of course that the cost of the cardio-thoracic unit mysteriously dropped by $3m. This is the first time that I have ever seen the cost of anything in the hospital system drop by $3m over a three-year period. If you have a government that does not even know how many patients they treat in their public hospital system, then I suppose how much it actually costs, give or take $3m, really does not matter.

Mr Speaker, the cardio-thoracic unit, like the adolescent ward, was one of Labor's touchstone promises. Mr Berry said three years ago, "We are the only ones that will carry it through". He failed on both counts. We now have an adolescent ward opened by this Government earlier this year. By the way, I am very interested to hear Mr Berry make the comment - - -

Mr Berry: You closed beds in obstetrics.

MRS CARNELL: I think it is very interesting to hear Mr Berry. I have just referred to the 1995 health policy, that document of those opposite. After six years of failing to deliver, Labor promised to open an adolescent ward but - wait for this - only if it was budget neutral, which would have meant redirecting resources from other areas of the hospital. That was their policy. Mr Berry is found out again.

Mr Berry: You promised 50 beds.

MRS CARNELL: Mr Speaker, he cannot even interject correctly, let alone get a health policy right. Mr Berry has certainly been having a shot at me on that one. I have just shown that their own policy says the same. In June 1997 this Government expects that the first patient will undergo surgery in the Canberra region's new cardio-thoracic facility. To help with this reality, we have allocated $2.7m for staff training, set-up and infrastructure costs. That is not the first money we have spent on the cardio-thoracic unit at all. In fact, some of the equipment has already been purchased, and the ward space is already in place. On 18 September this year, Mr Berry criticised the allocation of this money. I would like to quote from his media release. He said:

The people of the ACT have been short changed in Mrs Carnell's 3 year budget ...

If Mr Berry knew anything about cardio-thoracic surgery, he would realise that the cost of the service will increase when we actually start treating more and more patients. The fact that surgery is not due to start until June this year shows that our figures are right, contrary to the figures of the previous Labor Government. They had figures such as $1.1m and $4m. What is right? Who would know? The fact is that we are going to deliver.

MR KAINE: I ask a supplementary question, Mr Speaker. You mentioned, Chief Minister, the disparity in the figures that the Labor Party quoted. Is this because they were just fudging the figures, or is it simply that, as usual, they could not add up?

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