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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1996 Week 12 Hansard (19 November) . . Page.. 3752 ..

Motion of Want of Confidence

Debate resumed.

MR MOORE (3.59): Mr Speaker, this motion grew out of frustration, I believe, with the way mental health has been handled, and I must say that it is a frustration I share. I also must say that it is a frustration I have shared since I have been in this Assembly. Those of us who served on the Social Policy Committee of the Second Assembly that looked at the mental health legislation realised that the issue of mental health was one that would not be easily resolved. We took the unusual step, for a committee of this Assembly, of saying that we believed that extra resources were required to assist in resolving those problems. This motion is clearly about that frustration, and, indeed, Mrs Carnell was on that committee - - -

Mrs Carnell: And we have made extra resources available.

MR MOORE: She indicates that she has made extra resources available. Looking back through the budget, I am still not convinced that those extra resources are actually made available and how much has been part of this changeover to accrual accounting and a different way of presenting things. I am open to be convinced that that is not the case, that indeed there has been more money put aside, but at this stage I have real doubts that that has been the case.

The motion has now moved a step further with the amendment by Mr Berry to include the mismanagement of the health budget. I suppose that, in this sense at least, Mrs Carnell ought to concede that she has not been able to achieve something she has claimed she could achieve. She has certainly claimed publicly that she could manage the health budget, improve health outcomes, and save money at the rate of some $10m a year. Indeed, she was rather dismissive of the way the health budget had been dealt with by Mr Berry and Mr Connolly. An extra $14m was put into the budget last year, and in this current budget more than that much again, making at least an extra $30m going into the budget before the three years is up, rather than savings of $30m. So there is a $60m difference between what Mrs Carnell said she would do and what she has been able to do once she was put at the helm. It does not matter, from the point of view of a budget perspective, whether we have reduced waiting lists or any of those series of things, because it was Mrs Carnell who was saying, "We can still do those things and reduce the budget". I think it is appropriate for her to concede that issue.

The issue raised by this motion is the failure to give sufficient priority to people who are most disadvantaged in the community. By this, I believe, Ms Tucker is referring to people with mental health difficulties and other disabilities in particular. Finally, there is the issue of misleading. On the question of priorities, I happen to agree with Ms Tucker. I think inadequate priority has been given to mental health, and I have said that a number of times. I believe that this Government gives much too high a priority to support for business and much too low a priority to its core function, which is support for the disadvantaged in society.

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