Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 1 Hansard (17 February) . . Page.. 198 ..
Mr Corbell: You do not want to talk about your own administration.
MR MOORE: I will just do it very briefly, Mr Corbell. I know that you do not want to talk about it because it is so embarrassing. It is incredibly "emBerrysing", I would say. It is incredibly embarrassing for you. But when they were Health Ministers there was never any declaration by those Ministers of things that were embarrassing, such as budget blow-outs. They covered up. As an Assembly, we had to force them into providing the sort of information that I have willingly provided. Mr Stanhope takes credit, saying, "I found" - Mr Stanhope found - "the hospital was exceeding the budget and that we had had a blow-out". I provided that information to Mr Stanhope. That is how he got it. Labor governments were mean with information. They were never open and helpful to other members of the Assembly. I provide information that is requested very regularly and will continue to do so. It seems to me that what we have had since I have been Minister is a transparency that has not been there before, and it will continue.
I would like to take the points of the motion one at a time. The first one is the blow-out in the hospital budget. Mr Speaker, as we are all well aware from the internal reports which I have placed in the public domain, the hospital did take its eye off the ball last year - a projected blow-out of $7m in November and $10m in December. These were, of course, projections, and we are now working to attempt to contain this situation. Remember, that is not the situation now; it is a projection as to how it might turn out at the end of the year in a no-action scenario. It is no secret that the hospital budget has blown out, because I made that information available and made it public. It is largely the result of unsuccessful management, of staff numbers and of costs. But there are other factors which can, with strong determination, be addressed. Members may have read an article in the paper this morning by Professor Don Hindle, who says that the critical thing in management is getting people to work together to try to resolve these problems. Indeed, Mr Speaker, that is what I am doing and that is what Mr Rayment, of all people, is doing.
But there is a background to these problems. Many reports indicate that the hospital is overfunded and much more expensive than all comparable hospitals. Last week the Productivity Commission gave alarming figures for the Canberra Hospital's operating costs. Even though they are being tackled in some ways by Professor Hindle - and it is a good thing that they are, because we should have that debate - he does concede that there are some efficiencies that can be made. Mr Speaker, it seems to me that people in Canberra will wear a slightly more expensive hospital than ones in the rest of Australia if we can see that we are getting extra service from that extra expenditure. Report after report has indicated problems with work practices in all levels of the hospital. Now, that is not to say that people are not working hard. We know that the people there are working hard. Certainly, as I go round and talk to the nurses and other staff at the hospital, I know they are working hard. However, if there is poor organisation in some area, if there is inefficiency, it adds pressures. If there are added pressures, of course, then we have to look at more efficiency in organisation and a change in the character of staff and some re-engineering. But, Mr Speaker, that is not something that can be done quickly. It is something that does take time and does take effort.