Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 1 Hansard (17 February) . . Page.. 239 ..
MR HUMPHRIES (continuing):
others on the Labor side in this debate have trumpeted the evil of extensive waiting lists and the increases in waiting lists, and have said that this is a matter on which the Government should stand condemned. But you would not get any sense of that from the way in which Labor treated very significant increases in waiting lists when it was in office.
Mr Stanhope: Have you read Mrs Carnell's election speech, Mr Humphries? Have you read the election speech?
MR HUMPHRIES: Mr Stanhope, in particular, is new to this place and to some extent he can say, "I was not part of those earlier budgets". But the fact is that he is the inheritor of the mantle of the Labor Party's administration of health. He is the health spokesman for the Labor Party and he cannot lightly step to one side and leave to one side the inheritance that that represents. He tells us that waiting lists are a damning indictment of the Government, that waiting lists constitute a breach of trust to the people of the ACT, and that we, in particular, are responsible for the waiting list increases. Let me go back to 24 November 1993 when the then Labor Health Minister, Mr Berry, said this:
Waiting lists are one indicator of hospital performance. Everybody knows that. They are one indicator. If that was the only indicator that you had you could say that the variation in waiting lists was a measurement of hospital performance. You have to take into account, as I said over and over again, the average length of stay and the number of people you are treating in the hospital system, and in both areas this Government has done extra well.
Mr Speaker, if that was a defence back in 1993 then it is a defence today to increases in hospital waiting lists, and that is precisely what the situation is today. There has been extra throughput. There have been shorter average lengths of stay. In those circumstances, on what basis is a motion moved here today which relies upon that to condemn the Minister for Health?
Here is another interesting statement from the former Minister for Health, Mr Berry, again about waiting lists. I quote from what was said on 20 October 1993:
No government has been able to come up with the formula that guarantees that waiting lists will decline.
I repeat: No government. Who is responsible for the waiting lists? Mr Stanhope has told us it is the Government that is responsible for the waiting lists. Not according to Mr Berry. Mr Berry said:
Essentially, the number of people on the waiting list is, of course, decided upon by the referring specialists who decide whether people need surgery for one reason or another.
Mr Deputy Speaker, a few years ago waiting lists were not the responsibility of the government of the day. That is what he said, Mr Hargreaves, or Mr Hourigan, as the paper referred to you this morning.