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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 10 Hansard (27 August) . . Page.. 2888 ..

MRS DUNNE (continuing):

capital budget, and elsewhere in the previous government have been discontinued in this place by this Chief Minister.

Mr Stanhope: Tell us about mental health. Tell us about disabilities.

MRS DUNNE: Chief Minister, you can talk people down all you like, but it does not take away from the fact that you have abandoned the people of Belconnen, you have abandoned the people of Gungahlin, and you will not do anything about the fact that elective surgery waiting lists will be blowing out because you have closed the hospital for 12 weeks.

MR CORNWELL (8.26): I have a few comments to make in relation to this health budget. May I begin by expressing concern about the information relating to dental services which shows that in 2001-02 the target was 23,300 services and the estimated outcome was 20,000 services and that, for some peculiar reason, in 2002-03 the target is 20,300 services. I really do not know how you can lose 3,000 over 12 months from your targets, unless the government knows more than I do about toothache, people losing their dentures and such like. I would sincerely hope that the government will look at this matter carefully, as I shall do.

The other matter I want to talk about is care of the aged. I welcome, Chief Minister, the funding that has been provided towards a permanent convalescent facility and a respite facility, small though the amount is, but one should not quibble because I notice that in succeeding years that amount will rise. The problem I have, however, is whether we can keep pace, because I do not believe that it is possible for any government to estimate the need for respite care and the need for accommodation for the aged in this territory with its ageing population. In fact, it would seem to me that we are to some extent flying blind on that matter, and that is certainly not the government's fault.

I do welcome the advice-and I thank you, Chief Minister, for giving me a briefing on the ageing-that, for the next two years, instead of having 100 beds per thousand we will have 108 beds per thousand. The usual number of beds is about 110 for nursing home accommodation. I welcome that, although I am aware that that is not necessarily thanks to the ACT government, because the question of nursing home accommodation and the number of beds available, as we know, is tied up very much with Commonwealth funding.

One of the problems with aged care, if I may say so, is that it is bedevilled by Commonwealth, state and territory funding. I am giving thought to whether it would be better if total responsibility were assumed by one or the other. If it were assumed by one, it would probably have to revert to the territory. At least we would have control over what we were doing with our aged people.

In recommendation 63 of its report, the Estimates Committee raised the provision of additional beds. Indeed, at paragraph 15.28 the Estimates Committee stated:

Officials admitted that additional beds are needed across the system.

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