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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 12 Hansard (14 November) . . Page.. 3640 ..

Mr Humphries: Mr Speaker, I would be very happy with that ruling if it meant that in future, when a minister is asked to comment on a comment that I have made or one of the members of the opposition has made, you will also rule that out of order, but you have previously allowed such questions.

MR SPEAKER: Well, you're not a minister any more, Mr Humphries, so the rules of this-

Mr Stefaniak: Mr Speaker, could I talk on the point of order. Mr Hargreaves was, I believe, the shadow police minister at the time. Mr Quinlan is now the police minister; there is that consistency there. So Mr Hargreaves presumably was speaking as the shadow minister or opposition policy spokesperson at the time. I asked Mr Quinlan a question in relation to the Labor Party's position on this now. Mr Quinlan is the current minister; Mr Hargreaves was the shadow previously. So, with respect, sir, I think that is very relevant to the point of order.

MR SPEAKER: I don't know that Mr Quinlan is responsible for something that Mr Hargreaves said when none of the Labor team were ministers. Mr Quinlan, do you want to-

MR QUINLAN: Well, under your guidance, Mr Speaker, I will say this in direct answer to what Mr Stefaniak is driving at. I will not be seeking to repeal that burnout legislation now, but I may as well put this place on notice: if we find that it has in fact been implemented or applied inequitably or unfairly, it will be repealed.

Radiation therapy-delays

MS MacDONALD: My question is directed to the Minister for Health. Minister, there has been considerable comment in recent months about delays in the provision of radiation therapy at the Canberra Hospital. Can the minister give the Assembly an indication of the current situation?

MR STANHOPE: Thank you, Ms MacDonald. Certainly there have been unacceptably long waiting times for radiation therapy at the Canberra Hospital, and that has been the case now for some time, but they certainly are improving. Currently, the median waiting time for radiation treatment at the Canberra Hospital is 19 days from the time a patient is assessed as medically ready for treatment. This represents a very significant reduction on previous waiting times, which were in excess of 10 weeks, and the reduction in time, I have to say, reflects extremely well on the dedication of the staff at the Canberra Hospital.

The reduction in waiting times has partly been achieved through the recruitment of new radiation therapy staff and the commissioning of new equipment. The government provided the funding to deliver a long overdue and much needed pay increase for radiation therapy staff, bringing their salaries into line with New South Wales pay rates. Certainly much of the difficulty that was experienced in the recruitment of radiation therapy staff at the Canberra Hospital was a result of a significant slippage in pay rates experienced by radiation therapists, and indeed by other health professionals, in the ACT.

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