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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 9 Hansard (20 August) . . Page.. 2443 ..

MR STANHOPE (continuing):

that you completely alienated the community, as you continue to do. I cannot claim all the credit for the 16 per cent. If we want to get into numbers, we can talk about the efficacy, the effect or the impact of the Labor Party's election document. It was an excellent document which went to the heart of issues of major concern to the people of Canberra, namely, the state of health, education, planning and the other things that are really important to the people of Canberra.

We recognised that in our health election document and it is something that I am happy to talk about, so I am happy that you keep asking me about it. I am happy that you have asked me about the promises we made in the election campaign in relation to health, because what we promised to do was to address the issues of real concern to the people of Canberra. We promised to identify and to genuinely seek to address all those areas of unmet need-issues around disability services, issues around mental health, issues around the lack of respite care, issues around things that go to the quality of life of the people of Canberra.

They were the promises that we made and they are the promises that we have delivered on. We have delivered significantly in relation to disability services-$10 million over the next four years. We have delivered significantly in relation to mental health-more than $4 million over the next four years. We have delivered on respite care-more than $3 million over the term. We are building a convalescent facility. We cannot put all the money into elective surgery and increase funding for mental health, disability services, respite, convalescent care and in our response to substance abuse. We cannot do all those things and pour money into the waiting list for elective surgery as there is not enough money to go round.

We are proposing a number of revenue measures. We bit the bullet, we took the hard decisions and we went to the priorities, and that is what we said in our election document we would do. We have kept our promises and we have kept them quite clearly. We have done what the people of Canberra wanted us to do and what we were elected to do. The fact is that you believe that elective surgery should remain on a pedestal by itself and the other pressing needs in relation to mental health, disability services, respite and all of those other issues that go to the capacity of some people simply to live seem to be irrelevant to you.

We took a hard decision and I will stand by it, that is, we identified a range of other priorities in addition to the one and only issue that you are concerned about, namely, elective surgery. I will live by it. The waiting list is currently at 4,000 and it is almost certainly going to increase. That is a decision we have taken. That is a decision, that is a position and that is a situation that I am happy to bear responsibility for.

Community advocacy groups-rationalisation

MS TUCKER: Mr Speaker, I am not sure whether my question is to Jon Stanhope as Minister for Health or Bill Wood as there is overlapping. Perhaps you can decide who should respond. It is in regard to page 40 of the recent Reid report on health, which reads:

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