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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 7 Hansard (2 July) . . Page.. 2191 ..

MR HARGREAVES (continuing):

I would like to see an abandonment of the propensity within Health to change its leadership constantly. One of the malaises that have affected Health over the years has been this constant change at the top. It has not actually saved any money - - -

Mr Moore: Just make sure I stay here and you will be right.

MR HARGREAVES: I meant the top. I am sure that Mr Moore, with all of his good motives, would do an absolutely brilliant job as Health Minister, second only to Mr Stanhope. The hospital suffers from the same malaise as the whole of the central body in that we seem to constantly change the captain of the ship instead of having a look at whether there is something wrong in the engine room. In fact, one could almost compare the hospital to the Collins class submarines. They are pretty appalling as well, and they are costing $300m to fix up.

Mr Moore: The hospital works. It is just the finances.

MR HARGREAVES: I hear the Minister saying that the hospital works. I saw an article in the Sydney Morning Herald about how Australia-wide it should take a day to have your gall bladder out. I also know that for somebody in our system it has been nigh on a week, so if the hospital works it is not working very quickly. I have visited some very dear friends of mine who have been having major surgery in pretty ordinary circumstances. The professional staff at the hospital, in my view, are second to none in Australia. The hospital is so big that people are running around confused and do not know how to fix the problem. My experience is that if you look at some of the smaller things and work your way up you can be surprised how much you find.

I think ACT Community Care and its managers, particularly Michael Szwarcbord, have done a superlative job, and if they are allowed to get on with the job we will not hear any more of them. I think the Minister would well be advised to let them get on with the job and concentrate on the hospital. If he does, I think we will be doing well.

MR MOORE (Minister for Health and Community Care) (5.18): I would like to take the opportunity to respond to some of the comments that have been made. I will deal with Mr Hargreaves first and say thank you for the compliments. I am sure that they will be picked up by people within the department. It is important to recognise the good work that is being done by people. Mr Hargreaves named a couple of people. They are good examples, but there are a huge number of workers doing a fantastic job. Of course, the issue with the hospital is not to do with the professional care. Recently it has only been about budgetary matters. I will perhaps come back to those.

Mr Stanhope in his comments raised the issue of wanting to see the full story and doing a six months' trial of providing further information. It is the same information, of course, that I provided in retrospect to the Select Committee on Estimates. It is the monthly ownership reports to the Treasurer. I am happy to provide those reports. They did not reveal any secrets. In some way or other we have been providing the information. This will perhaps do it in a clearer way for members, and I am very pleased with that.

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