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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 5 Hansard (7 May) . . Page.. 1260 ..

MR SMYTH (continuing):

I will take the example of what is currently happening in mental health. Since becoming opposition spokesperson for mental health, many people have talked to me about the unmet need there.

Mr Stanhope: While you were in government-the need you did not meet. Seven years you were in there. How embarrassing. Seven years of neglect!

MR SMYTH: At the same time, unfortunately, we have had the three recent deaths. We said we would wait and see what the coroner said, and we are being consistent in this. What we have yet to see from the government is how they will do this. The Chief Minister interrupts and says, "Seven years of neglect." Again, it was making up for their $344 million operating loss that allowed us to put in place programs.

Mr Stanhope: How much did you spend on Bruce Stadium?

MR SMYTH: As we came into surplus, we put money into the services the people of Canberra required. The Chief Minister asks how much we put into Bruce. Bruce is not recurrent money, Chief Minister. You are showing your ignorance here. If what you are saying is that you would turn capital into recurrent money, then you ought to speak to your Treasurer. I am sure he would not like that concept.

We have a very important report in front of us. The Chief Minister makes the jibe: seven years of neglect. What I have shown is not seven years of neglect; what I have shown is a party that set up an agenda in 1996 that was running forward and was to take us to about 2002. The Chief Minister himself acknowledges that it is now time to review that agenda. (Extension of time granted.)

What we have seen is a program of continuous improvement, as I have outlined. This is just a brief summary of what was done in that time. It was, as the Leader of the Opposition said this morning, a disability service that for much of our period in government led the way, was innovative and was instrumental in improving the conditions for those under its care. Then we as the government backed it up with the finance to do it.

I lay down this challenge to the Chief Minister: will he stand up now and guarantee a 40 per cent growth in disability funding over the next four years-maybe 30 per cent over three years-for the life of this government?

Mr Stanhope: If we have to pick up the slack-the big hole that Amanda Vanstone and Peter Costello are about to leave-a $1.2 million cover by the Liberals.

MR DEPUTY SPEAKER: Order, Mr Stanhope! You will have the chance to respond shortly.

MR SMYTH: The Chief Minister talks about Amanda Vanstone. It is quite clear that what he has got is caught up in his own federal party's rumour mongering about a federal budget. As Amanda Vanstone said yesterday, we have a federal government that has put substantial extra funds into the disability sector and given them to the states and territories for expenditure. At the same time, Labor is rumour mongering about what may or may not happen in the budget.

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