Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 1 Hansard (30 April) . . Page.. 240 ..
MR MOORE: Yes, I will be pursuing savings with vigour wherever I can find them. It has been very clear that for many years prior to self-government and certainly through the early stages of self-government the health budget blew out and blew out. You would be aware of that, Mr Berry. I will be pursuing savings because I see it as an important part of my role to ensure that we no longer blow out the health budget; that is part of ensuring that we can reduce the significant operating loss that the ACT Government still operates under. In terms of the negotiations - as you know, Mr Berry, better than anybody else, having been involved in industrial relations for a long time - there is always give and take on any set of negotiations. For me to provide a definitive answer along those lines at this stage is impossible.
MR WOOD: My question is to the Chief Minister and Treasurer. Since January, the Government has received over half a million dollars a week from the Federal Government under the Medicare agreement, an agreement which the Chief Minister touted as good news for the Territory. Since then your Federal colleague Dr Wooldridge has often told us how the ACT is getting extra money and our elective surgery waiting lists will benefit. How is it then that between December and February the waiting lists have risen by 148 at Calvary and 463 at Canberra?
MS CARNELL: It is actually quite simple. The money did not start till after that time. In reality, this would be a question for Mr Moore as Minister for Health.
Mr Berry: Why did you keep it secret through the election campaign?
Mr Humphries: We did not have the figures then.
MS CARNELL: We did not have the figures then. Mr Speaker, I do not think anyone would say that the $551,000 per week is anything but a very good deal for the ACT. That money has predominantly so far been spent on new surgical equipment. So, $2.4m has been spent on new surgical equipment that was needed to make sure that the elective waiting list could continue to be addressed. One of the interesting things about hospitals is how many total kits of surgical equipment you need to ensure that you can always use a surgery when one becomes available or an operating theatre when one becomes available and so on. It was becoming quite evident that the amount of surgical equipment we had was less than was totally efficient. So, we spent $2.4m on that. More recently, Dr Wooldridge has given us the okay to spend some of the money on the asthma program that is aimed at improving the situation for the many thousands of asthma sufferers in the ACT, to try to keep them out of hospital.
Mr Speaker, the bonus payment started on 16 March, not in January. It was a bit hard for that to affect the waiting list figures in January. Regularly - in fact, every year - waiting lists go up after the Christmas break; it is just part of the deal. As people come back after the break over Christmas, as doctors have a bit of time to sort out their procedures