Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 1 Hansard (13 December) . . Page.. 270 ..
MR SMYTH: I am so pleased by your attention, Mr Speaker. So, Mr Speaker, what we have is a reduction in ACT hospital funding-I understand it to be the first reduction since self-government-being presided over by the minister for hospitals. I think it is a shame that he is taking such a limited view of the health system. What we need to do is to concentrate on the rest of the work that the department of health does in upgrading the general health of the community. All credit to Mr Quinlan for his statement yesterday that, as the minister for sport and recreation, he understands that sport and recreation contribute to the general health and wellbeing of the people of the ACT. He might tell the minister for hospitals that.
What we have, I think, is some confusion about how they are going to fund their promises. What we have, I think, is a trap that they will get into, and the people of Canberra will pay for that in 2003-04 when hospital funding goes down, unless they make additional funding available there. Of course, we need to make sure that we keep an eye on that. I will be putting questions on notice to the minister for hospitals to make sure that we find out what that $6 million will buy, how many times they intend to spend it, and whether the hospital really was in the sort of crisis that he whipped up in the lead-up to the election for his own political purposes. But, as Mr Humphries has said, we will support this bill. It is a shame that we will not get an opportunity to have an estimates committee consider it. I will say that that is curious, because when the government was sworn in the reports were that there would not be-
MR SPEAKER: Mr Smyth, please resume your seat for a minute. We have to have a bit of silence while people are trying to speak. I cannot hear what is going on. I would appreciate it if members lowered the conversation levels or just moved back a bit from the chamber so that we can hear what is going on.
MR SMYTH: Thank you, Mr Speaker. The final point would simply be that, initially, it appeared that the crisis had dissolved because the reports were that the second appropriation was not going to occur until February, until I asked why that was so because there was a crisis. We know that there was a crisis because Mr Stanhope said in his press release that there was a crisis. It is pleasing that the funding has been brought forward to this side of Christmas to meet the supposed needs of the hospital, but I would like to know what it is that the hospital will get out of this funding.
MS TUCKER (5.38): The Greens are supporting this appropriation. I listened to Mr Smyth and Mr Humphries. I do not know whether they sought a briefing and Labor denied them a briefing, but I did seek a briefing and I have an understanding of how this money will be spent as a result of that briefing. I will be interested in Mr Quinlan's response to the concerns that Mr Humphries and Mr Smyth have raised but, as I understand it, the reason for the reduction from $8.7 million to $6 million is clearly because we have a series of outputs, if you like, being funded.
For example, looking at the difference between the $8.7 million and the $6 million, in the first year, 2001-02, there will be $500,000 spent on systems. That is about setting up a computer system-it is a one-off-to improve the ratio between nurses and patients. It is about acuity issues which, as members are aware, have always been a factor in terms of how effectively the hospital is being been run and whether the load on the nurses is appropriate. We all know that it has not been appropriate because the acuity issue has increased in hospitals significantly over the years and there has been a real argument