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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 7 Hansard (2 July) . . Page.. 2181 ..

Mr Hargreaves: I take a point of order, Mr Temporary Deputy Speaker. Who is the duty Minister this afternoon?

MR TEMPORARY DEPUTY SPEAKER: I think Mr Moore is and he is taking some advice; but do not interject on your leader, if you would be so gracious. You just took up a minute of his time.

MR STANHOPE: I would like to touch on a number of issues in relation to the department that were referred to in the Estimates Committee's report. I will go through a few of the issues and some of the responses that were dealt with. Recommendation 29 was that the Government, on a trial basis, provide Assembly members with monthly detailed information about projected savings and revenues for the Canberra Hospital and the basis of the projections, et cetera. I think that is a very good recommendation. There is considerable public and community interest in the public health system and the Canberra Hospital in particular, as one would expect, and I think this recommendation goes to allowing the community and members of the Assembly the opportunity to more closely monitor the performance of the hospital. It is pleasing that the Government, in its response, has accepted this recommendation and is prepared to trial this proposal.

I guess the Estimates Committee's recommendation is a response to some of the public debate that we have had over the last six to nine months about the Canberra Hospital's budget and the extent to which the budget did blow out. I think we, as members of this place, had difficulty in following the history of the blow-out and exactly what it meant, and wondered whether or not we were receiving the full story in relation to the hospital's budgetary problems. We acknowledge that the Canberra Hospital does already report in a very detailed way. It is probably the case that the Canberra Hospital does already report in a more detailed way than other agencies, but, because of the significance which each of us places on a healthy health system, I think that is only appropriate having regard to the significance of health and health services to every member of the community. In view of the constant problems that we have with waiting lists and operating times, it is relevant that we have this information available to us.

As well as the issue of the hospital's budgetary problems and the significant problems which the hospital and the Minister have experienced in keeping the budget anywhere near that which was predicted, we have had, over this last year, I think, a very worrying and commensurate blow-out in the waiting list. I think it is a matter of double concern that we have a budget running amok as well as waiting lists that to some extent are keeping pace with the budget blow-out. I have not seen the figures that the Minister tabled today but, unless there is a dramatic difference, we have a very sorry history in terms of the tracking of waiting lists and surgery throughput over the last year. We look forward to significant reductions in the waiting list and increased throughput in both the day surgery and the main theatre.

Another issue that the Estimates Committee touched on was aged and disability services. I think it is generally accepted that there is a significant unmet need in the area of aged and disability services. As everybody knows, Canberra has a significant issue in the ageing of our population and there is a continuing and significant unmet need with disability services. I understand that Mr Moore is negotiating with the Commonwealth in relation to those services, and we wish him well in his negotiations.

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