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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2001 Week 10 Hansard (29 August) . . Page.. 3605 ..

MR OSBORNE (continuing):

public servants to do what they do best-namely, being a cost-effective instrument of administration that is ready to implement the programs of whatever political party holds power as government of the day. Certainly, there may have been increased achievement under these two reforms, but far too often it has been lacking in quality.

Bungled projects, such as the hospital implosion and the Bruce Stadium redevelopment, highlighted lessons that we, as a parliament, would do well to heed. Both of these projects have been scrutinised at length by independent experts. Not surprisingly, both of those experts, the coroner and the Auditor-General, had fairly similar things to say. They found unprofessional action from public servants at all levels, systemic failures with the way the projects were handled from start to finish, incompetence and unnecessary outside interference.

What had caused such comprehensive failure? How has it come about that our public service appears to have been clear-felled of people with the ability to organise the safe demolition of a building or partial construction of a football stadium? My examination of these two projects has led me to the strong conclusion that only a deep-seated change to the structure of the senior levels of the public service will discourage similar failure in the future.

Debate interrupted in accordance with standing order 74 and the resumption of the debate made an order of the day for a later hour.

Sitting suspended from 12.31 to 2.33 pm

Questions without notice

Canberra Hospital

MR STANHOPE: My question is to the Minister for Health, Housing and Community Services. Can the minister confirm that staffing shortages have forced the imaging department at Canberra Hospital to cancel all outpatient ultrasound services? How serious is the staffing shortage amongst imaging technicians? Can he tell the Assembly what impact the shortage is having on patient care, particularly for oncology patients and the chronically ill?

MR MOORE: Thank you, Mr Stanhope, for that question. Indeed, there are staffing shortages in oncology and nuclear medicine. This has been an ongoing problem, not dissimilar to nursing, but I think a little bit more intense than nursing around Australia. We know, for example, that in Queensland they are paying something in the order of 37 per cent more for people who do this type of work.

The Canberra Hospital has advertised for people who work in the area as radiographers, stenographers and so on for some years. They have advertised, and been successful in advertising, overseas. Unfortunately, one of the things that happen when they bring people in from overseas is that there are times when the staff are employed and then are lured out into private practice, because in hospitals people tend to work shiftwork and do a range of other things. They can be paid reasonably well.

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