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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 1 Hansard (17 February) . . Page.. 197 ..

MR STANHOPE (continuing):

The people of Canberra have grave concerns about the management of the public hospitals. The people of Canberra, surely, have grave concerns at this Government's failure to meet its promises in relation to the public hospital system. It is appropriate that this Assembly record that it shares the community's grave and justified concerns. On that basis, Mr Speaker, I commend this motion to the Assembly.

MR SPEAKER: Before I call Mr Moore, I would like to recognise the presence in the gallery of teachers and pupils from Year 6 of the Canberra Church of England Girls Grammar Junior School. Welcome to your Assembly.

MR MOORE (Minister for Health and Community Care) (11.23): Mr Speaker, the difference between me and Mr Stanhope is the difference between a long-term view of the interests of the community and short-term political expedience. The short-sighted view, the politically expedient view, that Mr Stanhope has put is one that I will deal with in this speech. In the past, I must say, I have made forensic attacks on government over financial results. But this is not a forensic attack. It is not helpful to the public or to anyone else. It is personal sniping. It is simply the end result of press release rhetoric that Mr Stanhope has been developing over the last year. It is empty rhetoric. It is loose with the facts, as were the press releases Mr Stanhope put out just on Monday, which were simply wrong, wrong, wrong.

Quite a number of the things Mr Stanhope said today were simply wrong. We had a clear demonstration of that just a few moments ago, Mr Speaker. Mr Stanhope created some promise that, supposedly, I had made. When I denied making that kind of promise about an extra 300 public beds, he went on to say, "The Minister has promised it", as though reiterating something enough for himself would actually prove that it is right. It just does not work that way, Mr Stanhope. Of most interest to me is the damage that Mr Stanhope's approach will do to the hospital. Just a short while ago Mr Stanhope raised a series of hospital stories, but he did not tell us when those stories occurred. We know when they occurred; they occurred at the time of the VMO dispute. Why were they occurring at the time of the VMO dispute? It was because there was some political mileage for a particular interest group in getting those stories out.

When was the last time we had one of those stories, Mr Stanhope? Even if we did, let us remember that there are in the order of 500,000 occasions of service a year across our public hospital systems. That is how many people come in for a service. We know that the Commissioner for Health Complaints received 87 written complaints in the previous year, 0.001 per cent, or something, of the occasions of service. In other words, there is very widespread satisfaction with the hospital service. That is because we deliver a fantastic hospital service, an improving hospital service, and we have been delivering more and more of it since I have been a Minister. I will come back to that. Mr Stanhope, even though it is a tiny percentage, it would still allow approximately two complaints to go into the media each week.

I think it is worth looking at the past. During the previous Labor Government's time in office when Mr Berry and Mr Connolly - - -

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