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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 1 Hansard (17 February) . . Page.. 191 ..

MR STANHOPE (continuing):

Mr Speaker, it was 10 months ago, just a little under, that a little bit of history was created in the Assembly when Mr Moore left the crossbench of this place to join the Carnell ministry. At first it was a reluctant move, only in a physical sense, in that Mr Moore wanted to retain an appearance of independence by keeping his seat next to Ms Tucker. But the crossbench members in this place intuitively recognised that any semblance of Mr Moore's independence was gone from the moment he accepted Mrs Carnell's invitation to enter the parlour, and they suggested he move to the Government's side of the chamber. The judgment of the crossbench was vindicated some months later when Mr Moore moved along the bench to sit closer to the Chief Minister and to help manage government business.

This is, of course, the "independent" Health Minister who told the Canberra Times in September last year that, although he thought it unlikely he would be offered the chance, he would not hesitate to take the Chief Minister's job, and a chance to lead a Liberal government, if it came his way - an "independent" Health Minister, a chameleon, who is certainly nothing if not ambitious.

But to today's motion, Mr Speaker. The point of this debate today is not only to draw attention to the fact that there is a mess over which Mr Moore currently presides, but also to allow him and the Government an opportunity to allay the alarm and concern that all of us feel about the management of the health portfolio. We want the Government to explain in detail the cost overruns. We want the Government to explain the ballooning elective surgery waiting lists. We want the Government to explain the poisonous industrial relations at the hospital. We will be pleased to hear how all of these features of the current state of the public health system in Canberra fit within the Government's overall strategies and plans for the public hospitals.

Mr Speaker, it was the Opposition which publicly revealed that Mr Moore had lost control of the Canberra Hospital budget. It was the Opposition which drew public attention to the Government's monthly financial statement for the period ending 30 November last year - which, incidentally, was distributed to members on 24 December, Christmas Eve - a report which showed that at the end of November the hospital was running at $3.8m over budget. This was first reported in the Canberra Times on about 4 January.

The Minister's response to the first report was reported in the Canberra Times on 7 January, and on 7 January I think those of us that might have been alarmed at the prospect of a $3.8m overrun in the first five months of the financial year were perhaps heartened to read Mr Moore's comment. Mr Moore said - very blase, very sanguine - that he expected the budgetary overrun, the $3.8m, to be down by the end of the financial year. On that very same day, 7 January, the day that the Minister was being so sanguine about a $3.8m overrun, the then CEO of the hospital, in a minute to staff, said that he thought that the overrun was more in the order of $5m to $7m. That was reported on the same day, coincidentally, that Mr Moore was suggesting that there was nothing to worry about, that they would have it under control by the end of the year.

It is interesting to note Mr Moore's optimism because the situation kept getting worse after that concession of 7 January that there was a problem, but he would get it under control. By the end of January, Mr Moore was admitting a projected budget overrun at

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