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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 14 Hansard (10 December) . . Page.. 4077 ..

MR STANHOPE (continuing):

ACT, was so dominant that it effectively had greater power than the purchaser, the then department.

Purchaser/provider also plants the seeds of mistrust between parties that would ordinarily work together. Collaboration diminished as new ways of helping people were regarded as commercially sensitive information to be protected from the competition. Jurisdictions across the globe have turned away from the divisiveness of purchaser/provider and instead have sought more collegial and innovative solutions-to the point where I think the ACT was the last to be engaged in this experiment, all others having abandoned it along the way.

The legislation before us today is part of the government's approach to repair the situation, to replace division with collaboration, and to remove legislative impediments to the development of positive relationships across the health sector.

If those delivering the services aren't working together, the services they provide will put barriers in the way of consumers. This legislation puts an end to a situation in which Health had multiple agencies and multiple chief executives, each reporting separately to the minister. Such a situation seriously compromised the ACT community's confidence in our health system and its capacity to manage itself. As minister, I decided very early that I could not allow this to continue, and I have acted decisively to change it.

The separate legal identity for the service has operated as a barrier across a range of portfolio matters, including, for example, confusion around whether the territory or the service is the legal employer of the staff, and the bill resolves this confusion. The repeal bill enables the recreation of the legislative and organisational arrangements as they existed before 1996. The new and whole ACT health entity comprises different administrative units, including Community Care and the Canberra Hospital. All units will retain their corporate identity within the organisation, in much the same way as ACT Housing and ACT Forests do within their departments.

The integrity of the Canberra Hospital is maintained. The position of chief executive of ACT Health will have full accountability within the portfolio, including policy, planning and service provision. In reality, this arrangement has been in place since June, when the chief executive was appointed as administrator for the service.

The bill simplifies the legislative arrangements and formalises the practical reality. The legislation before us today centralises authority and clarifies relationships and lines of accountability. Responsibilities which previously were vested in the health and community care service now clearly become vested in the territory with the proper entity.

The focus of the changes I have described today is to ensure that the health system has in place the right legislative framework to deliver real accountability to the community, and, even more importantly, through that accountability to improve health outcomes.

I will move a government amendment to the bill to allow for a 31 December commencement date for the legislation. This is to ensure compliance with the Auditor-General's requirement to produce full accrual financial statements for the statutory

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