Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 6 Hansard (1 September) . . Page.. 1719 ..
MR MOORE (continuing):
Where is the money?". In launching and tabling "Setting the Agenda" I have clearly set the direction in which the Government wants to take Health. That is why it is that we will be concentrating, where possible, on funding Community Care.
If we were able to save approximately 10 per cent at the Canberra Hospital, without looking at Calvary, and I put that money into the community groups providing services in disability and respite care and all those areas, it would effectively double the amount of money we provided in those areas. It is difficult, as any Health Minister in Australia knows, to maintain an even budget in hospitals, let alone deal with the blow-outs. There is a great challenge for us just to hold budgets even to allow any growth funds to go into community care, but certainly that is what I am seeking to do.
I appreciate the comments people have made. I appreciate the recommendations of the Estimates Committee. I believe that I have sought, where possible, to respond positively to the Estimates Committee and that my officers responded positively when questioned. We will try to achieve the best outcomes for the people, not necessarily for the professional groups involved.
MS TUCKER (10.32): I would like to make a few comments after hearing Mr Moore and other speakers. It is all very reassuring to hear Mr Moore say that he welcomes comments and that he does intend to try to address the problems that have been highlighted by speakers tonight, particularly Mr Wood. It is the comments by Mr Wood I am particularly interested in, because I share his concerns on a number of issues in the community sector.
What we need to see in the ACT from Mr Moore and from this Government is an up-front picture of unmet need. I know I have raised this before and I have been told that it is sort of happening, that community groups are being asked to keep information, that they are doing some analysis themselves and that we will get an idea of the unmet need eventually. However, I seem to recall resistance in acknowledging that community groups need a little bit of help in collecting that data. It is another job they have to do. As Mr Wood so clearly articulated, they are working on a shoestring already, quite often in very stressful situations.
Mr Moore said, "I cannot fix everything up in three months but maybe you could". Obviously, no-one can fix everything up in three months. If there is this limited bucket of money that we keep being told exists and even if we could change our priorities and still be unable to do the job, then I say that it is the responsibility of government and of Health Ministers to be out in the open and honest with the community about what this means for vulnerable people in our community.
We have had a number of debates in this place about taxation. There is a debate going on in the Australian community right now about taxation. It is quite disgusting because it is always about giving people tax cuts. It is about offering people breaks. It is about not having to pay tax. I believe that when most people in Australia really understand the experience of quite a large number of vulnerable people in our community we will get a rejection of this approach to taxation which is coming from the two major parties.