Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 1 Hansard (17 February) . . Page.. 247 ..
MR SMYTH: We will not talk about circumcisions. We do need to look at the system. I think what the public want to know is that the Government is capable of handling it. Mr Moore, as Health Minister, is capable of handling it. Mr Moore, as Health Minister, does have the support of all his colleagues. With that in mind, I have moved this amendment.
MS CARNELL (Chief Minister and Treasurer) (4.26): I am speaking to Mr Smyth's amendment. I think it is very important for all members of the Assembly to look at exactly what we were being asked to pass here before the amendments were put on the table. The motion contains a number of statements about budget blow-outs, waiting lists, the capacity of the Minister to deal positively with staff, and so on and so forth, but the basis of the motion is to express the Assembly's grave concern at the inability of the Government and the Minister for Health to effectively manage the health system. What good does that do? None. Is it true? Can you be gravely concerned about something that happened to those opposite when they were in government? They have spoken lots about waiting lists. Yes, the waiting lists are unacceptably long, but they are the same length as they were under Mr Berry.
Can we be gravely concerned at Mr Moore's inability as a Health Minister when he is having exactly the same problems as Andrew Refshauge just over the border in New South Wales? Can we have grave concerns about Mr Moore's ability if he is having exactly the same problems as the Minister for Health in Victoria? Can we have grave concerns if he is having the same problems as the Minister for Health in Queensland? In South Australia recently they had to make a huge injection of new funds into health simply because the budgets were blowing out and they were having to close beds. Can we be gravely concerned about a Minister who is having exactly the same problems, as I think Ms Tucker said, as every other Health Minister in this country, and the same problems that Mr Berry had when he was Minister? If we pass that motion, that would tend to mean we were gravely concerned about the ability of every single Health Minister in this country, and certainly Mr Berry as Health Minister as well. Now, what good does that do?
The amendment that is on the table changes that approach. While not diminishing the importance of maintaining the budget, it refers to the need to ensure that waiting times for elective surgery are kept as low as possible, the need for the Minister to deal positively with staff, the appointment of a new CEO at the hospital and the measures recently instituted to address the hospital's budget overrun projections, and the need to make sure that the Minister is keeping a very definite oversight of the management of the hospital. That is exactly what you would expect from a Minister. What we do is change a motion that is negative, a motion that just expresses grave concern, to one that expresses this Assembly's insistence that the Government effectively manage the hospital system by ensuring that the services provided for in the annual purchasing agreement are delivered, and delivered within budget. That is a very definite and positive statement for this Assembly to make and it really puts the Government and the Minister on very definite notice.