Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 6 Hansard (15 May) . . Page.. 1648 ..
MR STANHOPE (Chief Minister, Attorney-General, Minister for Health, Minister for Community Affairs and Minister for Women) (3.58): This is an extremely important issue, and it needs to be acknowledged that in bringing it forward today, Mr Smyth is tacitly acknowledging his government's failure in this area. He is acknowledging that the Liberals failed.
Isn't it rich that Mr Smyth, as a previous minister for police, with a born again vision of the needs of mental health people, suddenly discovers, after seven years in government, that there are a significant number of people in this community who have mental health issues. It is a catharsis for Mr Smyth to discover this after seven years of inadequate response to people with mental issues, seven years of ignoring the problems and the gaps, seven years of doing nothing. All of a sudden, Mr Smyth is there urging the new government to do something-a government committed to the disadvantaged in the community; a government committed to doing something about people with mental illness.
I will finish on the retrospective point that Mr Smyth applauds the fact that the previous government initiated the development of Hennessy House. They did that, and we do remember Mr Moore opening it with great fanfare in the middle of last year. But it was then left to this government to settle the nurses dispute so we could get the house started. Hennessy House lay idle and empty for six months because of the mess that you made with health generally. You created such turmoil in the system that you could not start it, and it sat idle and empty until we could resolve that dispute.
To some extent, Mr Smyth, I admire your honesty and the fact that you are prepared to be so candid about your own failings. Your preparedness to be candid about your own failings is all the more remarkable given the fact that you are a one time minister for police and had a particular interest in and responsibility for the interface between people with a mental illness and the criminal justice system.
Once again, of course, you did nothing, but I acknowledge your courage in admitting that, as minister for police, with direct responsibility for the actions of police and the level of their training, you did absolutely nothing. You did absolutely nothing as minister for police in relation to this area.
So we have this sudden new-found enthusiasm for issues affecting people with a mental illness.
Mr Smyth: You seem to have lost your enthusiasm.
MR STANHOPE: Lost our enthusiasm? Nothing like it. We recognised the gap. We committed an additional $1 million straight up in the first budget-over and above existing expenditure. That is something you were not prepared to do. That is what we committed to this issue. We recognised the gap, and we moved. You were judged on the basis that you did nothing. That is why you were kicked out; that is why you were flogged; that is why you were rejected. You did not care, and you did nothing about it.
So here we are cleaning up your mess-just as we are cleaning up the mess in disability services. And look at the mess you left us in mental health as well. The proof of that is in the national report on government service for the year 2000, which showed that