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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 13 Hansard (21 November) . . Page.. 3893 ..

Health and Community Care Services (Repeal and Consequential Amendments) Bill 2002

Mr Stanhope , pursuant to notice, presented the bill and its explanatory memorandum.

Title read by Clerk.

MR STANHOPE (Chief Minister, Attorney-General, Minister for Health, Minister for Community Affairs and Minister for Women) (11.29): I move:

That this bill be agreed to in principle.

Mr Speaker, in introducing this bill, the government brings to an end a curious and debilitating experience in public policy. To be specific, the bill officially brings to a close the disastrous, in the view of many of us, purchaser/provider arrangement for health care services. With the introduction of this bill, the government today delivers a strategic and positive change in the management and delivery of health services in the ACT.

Upon taking office a year ago, the government moved to assess the existing arrangement for health services in the ACT. Several key reports have contributed to this, including the Gallop report on disability services and the review of governance arrangements within the health portfolio commissioned in December 2001 and carried out by Mr Mick Reid, former Director-General of the New South Wales Department of Health.

In responding to the Reid review in June this year, I announced several key changes, including separating disability services into a new department, abolishing the Health and Community Care Services Board and appointing the chief executive of ACT Health as administrator of the health service, pending legislative reform. The legislation I present today officially implements those changes.

The reforms to the health portfolio are very significant for health and for the ACT as a whole. They fundamentally change the way we organise the health portfolio to achieve better governance and better health outcomes and to provide better services for people in the ACT.

In 1996 the previous government introduced the purchaser/provider arrangements in the ACT. The arrangements were in favour at the time, and they copied changes to health in New Zealand made by the conservative government there. The change was ideologically driven, designed to distance the minister from responsibility for accidents in the health system.

I think it is a rich irony that the key benefits supposed to be derived from purchaser/provider turn out to be in precisely those areas where our performance has been found wanting. Purchaser/provider was supposed to deliver role clarity. The Reid Review found confusion. It was supposed to deliver improved accountability, yet both Reid and Gallop reported accountability in the system as diffused and weakened.

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