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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 1 Hansard (17 February) . . Page.. 246 ..

MR SMYTH (continuing):

Mr Deputy Speaker, there is much to do here about health. I do not think anybody here would doubt the importance of health to us all in promoting Canberra as a healthy city. How we go about that is very important. The amendment that Mr Humphries circulated and that I have moved talks about the future and about delivering and making sure that we are on track; that we deliver on our promises and deliver the reforms that Mr Moore, as Health Minister, is putting in train to ensure that we deliver the best health service for the people of Canberra.

It would be very easy to go back over old ground and have some sort of history lesson here, but I think enough people have said that others in this place have presided over blow-outs in hospital lists, have employed figures that were inflated, and have done many things except deliver the sort of health care that the people of Canberra deserve. Previous Health Ministers in this place have presided over blow-outs in health budgets that they conveniently forget. I think the record is something like $12m in 1992-93.

These amendments are about getting on with the job, building on the base that Mr Moore, as Health Minister, has already laid, and ensuring that we end up with a hospital that meets the needs of the people of Canberra. I think Mr Moore has the ability to get out there and look at the problems, to analyse the needs and to move forward.

Mr Deputy Speaker, it is important that we in this place make sure that what we are offering the people of Canberra is something better. I get a sense out there in the community that people are often disappointed about the argy-bargy. What they want from this Assembly is something more positive. They want to see the way forward. I think this amendment that Mr Humphries has put together says that. It is quite clear in its intent. We do need to contain the finances of the Canberra Hospital to the hospital's budget. We must be good managers. Mr Moore, as Minister, must be a good manager. We do need to ensure that waiting times for elective surgery are as low as possible, and this Government will certainly work towards achieving that. Mr Moore has the responsibility and I am sure he is very much aware of the need to ensure that that occurs.

The Minister for Health and Community Care does need to deal positively with staff at the Canberra Hospital, and I believe he does. I have heard reports from people who work there that they were quite pleased to see him come into the wards and talk with the staff in their workplaces in order to get an understanding and so that he can be a better Health Minister. The whole point of this debate is to ensure that we offer something positive for the people of Canberra. I think Mr Moore, as Health Minister, has built on the work of Ms Carnell as Minister for Health. He has that positive nature, that sometimes aggressive nature, to deliver for people at one of the most critical times of their lives - when they need hospitalisation and care. I think that through Mr Moore this Government will deliver that system.

Mr Stanhope: Are you going to start doing those circumcisions, Michael? There is a cost-cutting exercise.

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