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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 1 Hansard (17 February) . . Page.. 248 ..

MS CARNELL (continuing):

It is not notice that we did not know about. We were very well aware that the Assembly would require us to come in on budget. We do not in any way move away from the importance that the Assembly places on these issues, but we bring it around to a positive approach that insists that the Government manages within budget, addresses waiting times, and does those sorts of things. It is a very appropriate approach. It changes the motion from a short-sighted political shot to a motion that produces outcomes for the people of Canberra. That would seem to me to be a very appropriate approach, Mr Deputy Speaker.

Mr Berry: Just judge yourselves by your own standards.

MS CARNELL: Mr Berry says, "Just judge it by your standards". Look, these are our standards. We are looking for medium- and long-term solutions to the health problems that beset every State and Territory in this country. As Mr Moore said, he is working very closely with the Federal Minister for Health and also the local GPs to come up with real solutions for the long-term benefit of patients.

That is the reason why I would urge members of the crossbenches to support this amendment. It is certainly true that health for far too long has been the basis of ongoing slanging matches between both sides of this house. We have all been part of that at various times. What has it achieved, Mr Deputy Speaker? Very little. Would this not be a good opportunity to put a fresh foot forward, shall we say, and for a change look at these sorts of debates as something that should value add, should improve the outcomes for the people of Canberra, rather than just be cheap, short-sighted political goes from what is, I think, a very arrogant Opposition?

MR KAINE (4.32): I move a small amendment to Mr Smyth's amendment. My amendment will be circulated shortly. It is a fairly simple one. I move:

Omit "provided for in the annual Purchase Agreement", substitute "required by the community".

My reason for moving that amendment, Mr Deputy Speaker, is that we are in danger of setting in concrete a process which the Government has decided upon is a good way to go in order to place some obligation on the hospital management. I think there is some question about whether that process of embedding these requirements of the Government in these contracts is necessarily the right way to go because they certainly have not resulted in any better delivery of services, in my view, than the system that we had before. The big difference, of course, is that the Government itself was responsible before. Now the Government can use the subterfuge of saying, "Well, the hospital is not really us. It's them. We can impose a contractual obligation on them. If it is not delivered we can say, `You have not met your contractual obligation to us' ". In fact, no matter what subterfuge the Government attempts to use, at the end of the day it is the obligation of the Government to provide health services, and they really cannot shrug it off onto somebody else.

The other point is that whether or not the requirements of the community are being accurately reflected in these annual purchase agreements is a moot point. What appears in those annual purchase agreements is what the Government thinks it ought to do,

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