Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 10 Hansard (27 August) . . Page.. 2881 ..
MR QUINLAN (Treasurer, Minister for Economic Development, Business and Tourism, Minister for Sport, Racing and Gaming and Minister for Police, Emergency Services and Corrections) (8.02): Mr Speaker, I move amendment No 3 circulated in my name [see schedule 1 at page 2913].
MR SMYTH (8.02): Mr Speaker, it is important to put on the record that much was promised and, against that promise, not everything was delivered. There is, of course, extra money in this year's budget for health, and that is welcome. But in the lead-up to the election last year, in a document entitled "Priorities-Health care-Fact sheet 3", the ACT Labor Party said about its plans to rebuild ACT health:
ACT Labor believes we can do better. And Labor believes we can get better value for our health care dollar.
The document went on to say that waiting lists for elective surgery were unacceptably long and that Labor was also concerned about waiting times at the emergency departments of our public hospitals, going on to say that it would therefore establish at least two after-hours clinics and that Labor would address health needs in the areas of mental health.
In a document entitled "ACT Labor's plan for rebuilding the ACT health service", under "Addressing community concern and the crisis in ACT health", the Labor Party said:
The losers in this battle are those who work in the health system, and patients, and the ACT taxpayer.
Labor believes we can do better.
... Labor will immediately inject $6 million to turn around the decline under the ACT Liberal Government of The Canberra Hospital.
It also said on page 3 of that document, referring to the Estimates Committee hearings of the previous year:
In addition, in Estimates Committee hearings it became clear that the Government had not factored into its Hospital Budget the increased activity achieved last year, that is, an increase of 7 per cent over the previous year.
The document went on to say:
A crisis injection by Labor of $6 million to The Canberra Hospital will ensure its viability and operation at improved standards. With this additional $6 million, the Hospital would be able to employ more nurses and, for example, admit another 1300 in-patients and handle another 2500 patients in Emergency.
It is a shame that the rhetoric is not matched by the activity. It does need to go on the record that there is more money in the health budget. The reason that this government has been able to inject money into the health budget is, of course, that the previous Liberal government left it with a surplus, something we were not left. It took us more than six years to make up for the failings of previous Labor governments and be in a position where we could inject significant funds into the health system.